Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: What Do I Do When I’ve Eaten Too Much?

Q&A Wednesday: What Do I Do When I’ve Eaten Too Much?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Q: There are some days where I know I have messed up and have consumed more calories than I should by mid-day. Maybe it was just going a little overboard at lunch or even breakfast! I find that sometimes I just throw out the baby with the bathwater and continue to pig out the rest of the day. But I have made great efforts to be more aware of myself and not put myself in these situations, or to make things worse and try to do better the rest of the day. So, recently, I have done the opposite. On a day where I know I messed up, I didn’t eat the rest of the day and ate normally the following day. Would you do that if it happened to you or would you instead try to eat a sensibly the rest of the day, knowing that you could not “burn-off” the excess calories you consumed earlier in that day?

A: The answer is never to skip meals. Never, ever, ever. Your body survives on the nutrients we take in when we eat, and that should be our concern first and foremost. Nourishment. Not weight loss. I get it – losing weight is “important,” but making sure you have energy and nutrients is twice as important as the weight aspect could ever be.

However, weight loss is most certainly made easier when we properly nourish ourselves, and that begins with eating regularly.

But …say you over do it. Say, you go out for a very… um… indulgent lunch with co-workers. Do you torture yourself through starvation the rest of the day?

You have to understand balance. Look at it as if you’ve got $18 in your wallet to spend all day. Usually, you’re good about spending only $6 three times a day and sometimes, you only spend $3 in the morning and $4 at lunch, leaving you with $11 to spend in the evening.

But today, you’ve slipped up. Instead of spending $6 in the morning and $6 at lunch time, you spent $3 in the morning and $11 at lunch time… way more than what you usually plan for, or way more than what you allow. What do you do?

First, acknowledge that it’s never a good idea to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” for the day. “Eating better” doesn’t start the next day, it starts with the next meal. And, really, every time you reach to put something in your mouth is another opportunity for you to choose to eat better. If you’ve made a misstep, no matter how grave, consider your next meal to be your “starting over” point if you feel as though you need one. That way, you don’t add onto a 3-car pile-up with a fourth car and more tragedy.

Second, realize that it usually isn’t as bad as we think. In the instance of spending $3 in the morning and $11 at noon time… you still have another $4 to do something awesome with in the evening. You’ve got to figure out some amazing low-calorie dishes that you can cook that’ll both satisfy you as well as nourish you without taking you so far over your calorie budget that you can’t even see your number anymore. Fix yourself a simple stir-fry with tons of veggies and a good sauce that’ll fill you up on few calories. Give yourself a salad with lots of small shredded bits that’ll take you a long time to eat.

Lastly, take some time to assess what happened to cause you to overindulge. Was it a one-off random occasion that doesn’t happen (like, say, champagne to celebrate a wedding proposal, ahem)? If so, then that’s pretty much that. Life happens. But… was this an instance of skipping a meal/not eating enough earlier? Was this a case of making the wrong choices? Assess the circumstances surrounding the choices you made that resulted in the overindulgence, and determine ways that you can make better choices the next time.

Remember, the primary goal is to nourish, not to be a tool for you to get the body you want. Fill it with good, nourishing food and in respectable doses. You’ll feel not only satisfied, but you’ll be able to better resist the urge to overindulge.

What about you? Have you encountered this situation? How do you work it out?

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Tasha June 29, 2011 - 10:53 AM

Thank you for this article. Tody I was just so hungry I ate a approximate 8 oz steak..and felt so bad afterwards caue I know I went over my calories for today…so thank you and again tomorrow is a new day 🙂

Sally Gray April 18, 2012 - 2:24 PM

I have a hard time controlling myself a week or two before my cycle. Even eating at night….so I walk for an hour a day (broken down into 30 min increments), zumba, weights and kickboxing class. And the majority of what I eat is healthy..so I feel a lil better with the exercise that I put in as well. I hope this helps someone.

Kay June 29, 2011 - 11:57 AM

If I know in advance of a lunch out, I make sure I swap my lunch with my dinner and have a salad wrap & fruit in the evning rather than another meal. If its an impromptu one and I already have a dinner planned, I try to go for a salad based dish or a soup. Being able to be flexible and ‘roll with it’ is important to me as it helps me train myself better to deal with that kind of situation 🙂

nikki June 29, 2011 - 9:16 PM

I do this so often then think Jheez I will start again eating sensibly tomorrow. I thank you for the simple and sensible idea of starting anew at the next meal.
You site is awesome and it is helping me attain my healthier lifestyle from many angles.

icwatudid June 29, 2011 - 10:38 PM

Ironically, you will probably gain weight if you stress over the fact that you overate for one day. Just like the body can heal itself of minor sprains, cuts, and wounds, the body can be forgiving of one day of overeating. Slimmer people do this all the time (I calls it “social eating”) and they know not to make a habit of it.

Stefanie October 11, 2011 - 9:36 AM

Great response to the lady’s question. I have overate and think my day is ‘done’ because of it. But I have received the message that every meal is an opportunity to make healthy food choices.


LifeBliss Lisa April 18, 2012 - 2:24 PM

So simple…you’re brilliant!

DesB June 6, 2012 - 12:19 PM

This is soooo helpful. I too tend to punish myself for past food indiscretions, even when I know it’s not good for my body. Thanks for putting things in perspective….

Chasing Joy June 6, 2012 - 12:45 PM

Great advice. I will be taking it.

Kami October 30, 2012 - 8:53 AM

This happened to me during Hurricane Sandy. I slipped up and went over my calorie limit. I will continue to make better choices. I am not sure how calories I should take in because I do thai boxing and bikram yoga. The day of boxing I want to eat more but bikram yoga just makes me thirsty.

Devin July 22, 2015 - 6:28 PM

I know my comment is WAY late, but I just found this post via google and I have to say: This is a *great* post! I’ve been doing pretty well eating-wise for the last few months, but I still find myself in this position sometimes. Today was one of those days (ate a huge afternoon snack, even though I’m going to a friends’ place for lobster rolls and swimming (bikini!) in the evening). I needed that reminder to stay balanced – not to throw in the towel for the day and not to starve myself either. Your post was that perfect reminder.

This is my first time reading your blog, and now I’ll definitely be reading more!

If you are still looking at comments – I wonder what your view is on this: In a situation like mine, is it okay to maybe go to $18 on that one day, and make up for it over the next day or to by spending only $14-15? 🙂

Erika Nicole Kendall July 22, 2015 - 10:16 PM

Absolutely, but understand – we’re not spending $10 one day so we can spend $20 the next. 18 vs 15 is more like a respectful balance. It’s more livable, more like a lifestyle that respects healthy living.

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