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?