Whether you ate one (or several) more hot dogs than you had originally planned at that weekend outing or that serving turned into an entire pint of ice cream as you caught up on your favorite Netflix series, you know the feeling. The bloated, stressed thoughts that come after you know you overindulged.
An unexpected binge can feel incredibly frustrating. Even worse, it can cause your motivation and morale to tank, sometimes leading to an endless cycle that can completely derail your progress. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Incorporating healthy thinking habits into your routine can help you persevere.
Health coach Tania Koujou says “We think that going to the extreme right away is what will give us results in the long run. But, think again! You are worth enjoying the health changes you deserve. Don’t be harsh on yourself. Change starts from a positive loving place.”
First, let’s quickly define what overeating means. Obviously, there’s no objective amount here. Being able to recognize and satisfy your hunger and fullness levels is really important but also can be really hard to do. Look at it this way: If we look at hunger on a scale from 1-10, where a 1 means you’re so hungry you’ll pass out if you don’t eat something, and 10 means you’re Christmas-food-coma full, we’d put any of these uncomfortable, post-overeating feelings around a 9-10 on that scale.
So, we’re not talking about eating a few extra bites of ice cream that you were loving. We’re talking about those times when you might eat a little less mindfully and don’t realize how much you’re eating, or when you’re out with friends or at a holiday dinner with more food than usual, or just have meals spaced closer together than they normally are in a given day. None of these occasions are bad– they’re what happens when you’re enjoying life! But, when you overeat to the point of feeling tired, uncomfortable, and unhappy, you need to act.
One of the first steps to mindful eating overall is to be aware of the eating process. Once you’ve acknowledged this feeling, you’ll become more attuned to it in the future.
The next step to feeling better when you feel stuffed is to get your mind right. That means challenging any thoughts of guilt or shame you might have about eating more than what feels good for your body. One of the easiest ways to do this is to think about how you'd talk to a friend in the same sitch. You'd never tell them that they are a failure for overeating, so don't say those kinds of things to yourself either.
Here is an example of changing your thinking process when trying to reframe your mindset:
Harsh & Unhealthy Thinking: I will go on a week-long cleanse and juice detox. And I will work out for two hours a day to burn all those calories.
One week later: I can’t keep going! I have to stop this and eat everything in the fridge.
Gentle & Healthy Thinking: I will have more salads and proteins for the next few days. And I will do realistic cardio exercises with targeted strength exercises that I enjoy 5 times a week.
One week later: So glad I kept on track with my healthy habits and took care of my body.
And finally, remember that one meal will not make or break your health. Everything about your overall health, and even your weight, is based on the big picture: how balanced and varied your meals are in general, how active you are overall, and so much more. In the scheme of things, one meal means pretty much nothing compared to the big picture overall.
If you’re able to remember that one single meal will have zero effect on your health overall, you’ll be able to much more easily move forward, move on with your day, and get rid of any of those unhelpful, negative feelings.
It’s really, really important to understand that overeating is normal. Yes, it’s helpful to understand your hunger and fullness levels and try to honor them as much as possible. But you’re human. And there isn’t a single person who eats exactly when they’re hungry or stops precisely when they’re full every. single. time they eat.
Because a healthy body starts with a healthy brain, and the brain space you'll save by not fretting any longer than necessary over those "extra" calories can be used for so many more positive, productive things.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.