What To Do After a Binge: 17 Ways to Erase the Damage (2022)

Now that you downed that whole sleeve of cookies or bag of chips—or both—you may feel as though spending the rest of your days in a pair of sweatpants is a solid life plan. They're so roomy. So cozy. So stretchy. And best of all, they perfectly hide your food baby. While a life in elastic pants may sound cushy at first, after further assessing the caloric damage of your food free-for-all, you may be wondering what to do after a binge.

That's when the fantasy fizzles and the horror and panic take over. But don't fret: We're here to tell you that the situation is not as bad as it seems. The odds are in your favor that the temporary weight gain and bloat brought on by your binge will not become permanent additions to your frame.

Although experts say that after overeating it may take up to three days to feel like your old self again, there are some exercise, diet, and motivational tips that can help you get back on track right away. We enlisted the expertise of registered dietitians, nutritionists, and doctors to find out the best ways to bounce back from a binge, so you can continue living your life in a regular (read: not spandex) pair of pants the very next day.

1

First of All, Forgive Yourself

What To Do After a Binge: 17 Ways to Erase the Damage (1)

Listen up: It's not a crime to indulge. You're only human, after all. So if you're feeling fat, bloated, and mad at yourself for overdoing it, just stop. Dwelling on your binge will only make you more upset, which could lead to emotional bouts of overeating down the road. "Moving past the guilt is the first step toward getting back on track," says Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist based in New York City. "It's important to realize, too, that if it was just one overindulgent meal, it won't do too much damage. Generally, this would only set someone back a day or two." So keep your head up; you've still got this.

2

Hydrate

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Yeah, we get it. When you're super full the last thing you want to do is guzzle down water. But it's for your own good. "Staying hydrated can aid in binge recovery by aiding digestion and fighting gas-induced bloat," says Minchen. "Also, staying hydrated supports a healthy metabolism and satiety, making recovery more manageable for the body." Drink a large glass before bed and a few large glasses the next morning. It's also advisable to keep a water bottle by your side over the next two days. Doing so will help flush out any excess salt that's making you bloated.

3

Get Quality Shut-Eye

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What To Do After a Binge: 17 Ways to Erase the Damage (3)

Getting seven to nine hours of sleep is one of the best things you can do to get back on track after a binge. Why? It may make it easier to turn down fat and carb-laden trigger foods the next day. In a University of Colorado study, participants who were only permitted to sleep a mere five hours ate more the next day than those who got nine hours of shut-eye. Researchers observed that the well-rested crew had more "food restraint," while those who were sleep-deprived not only took in more calories, but more calories from carbs and fat.

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It's the weirdest thing: After eating a huge meal, we oftentimes swear we will never eat again only to wake up the next morning feeling more ravenous than ever before. Why does this happen? "After eating a big dinner, insulin levels spike. This is often followed by a blood sugar drop, which increases feelings of hunger the next morning," explains Minchen. Instead of heading to the cupboard and stuffing your face with sugary cereal, Minchen suggests fixing a balanced breakfast with a mix of protein, carbs, and fat. This will help tame your crazy hunger and aid in the continued digestion of last night's heavy meal. Minchen's breakfast of choice? Two whole eggs (or just the whites) topped with a fourth of an avocado and a cup of fruit.

5

Move!

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I generally caution my patients to be careful about viewing exercise as a way to counteract overeating, says Minchen. "This approach can fuel guilt and shame about eating habits. Plus, it's not realistic or effective to chase every calorie with exercise. Even so, breaking a sweat the day after a binge can help deliver oxygen to the digestive tract, which keeps food moving through smoothly and can help people feel less blah." Minchen recommends 30 minutes of light cardio, such as walking, jogging, or an at-home cardio DVD. If you're pressed for time, turn your trip to the mall into a mini-workout. Park as far away from the mall as possible and power-walk to and from the entrance.

6

Avoid Hard-to-Digest Foods

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If you've got a case of post-binge digestive distress, steer clear of any foods that may disrupt your tummy further. Big culprits include gluten, dairy products, coffee, refined sugar, carbonated beverages, and acidic foods like fruit juice, pasta, alcohol, fatty meats, and chocolate. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, green teas, almonds, lentils, and avocados are all more alkaline and won't upset those prone to acid reflux. "Focus first on eliminating known problem foods, and then decide if there are any others that you may need to avoid for a day or two to restore balance," says Minchen.

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7

Keep Lunch and Dinner 'Clean'

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There is absolutely no need to put yourself through a full-blown cleanse post-binge, but eating "clean" whole foods the day after overeating will make you feel refreshed and put you back in the right frame of mind to reach your goals. Minchen suggests whipping up meals comprised of a good balance of protein, fiber-filled carbs, and fat. Here are some examples that fit the bill:

  1. A grilled salmon fillet with one cup quinoa and three cups leafy greens dressed in an olive oil and lemon dressing.
  2. A baked chicken breast with half a sweet potato topped with one tablespoon of butter and two cups steamed broccoli.
  3. Four cups of leafy greens and other veggies topped with grilled steak, 1/4th of an avocado, 1/4th cup dried cranberries, and balsamic vinegar

8

Don't Starve as Penance

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If you're hungry between meals, eat something! Don't deprive yourself of food just because you overdid it yesterday. "Skipping usual meals or snacks the day after a binge will only increase the desire to overeat again," says Minchen. She recommends reaching for snacks rich in protein to promote satiety, like plain Greek yogurt with berries, organic turkey slices with avocado, a Quest Bar, or two eggs with a piece of fruit.

9

Allow Flexibility In Your Diet

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"Eliminate the urge to binge by allowing more flexibility and freedom into food choices and meal plans throughout the week," says Sara De Luca, RD, CPT. "Labeling food as 'good' or 'bad' will only lead to restrictive behaviors that will ultimately trigger a binge when the 'bad' foods are reintroduced into the diet! As long as portion sizes and calories are controlled, there should be no foods that are off limits."

10

Shun the Scale

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The scale is not your friend the day following a big binge. It may display a number higher than what you're used to as a result of the extra food sitting in your stomach and the water retention brought on by eating those salty pretzels. "Many of my patients find it defeating and discouraging to step on the scale after they've binged because it makes them feel like they lost all their progress, which isn't typically the case. Wait two days before weighing yourself to see what the lasting damage is," says Minchen.

11

Talk to Someone

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Much like most obstacles, the best way to tackle them is head-on, which is why Dr. Michael Jay Nusbaum, MD, FACS, FASMBS, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at Morristown Medical Center, advises to get to the root of the problem. "Binge eating is not uncommon, but what triggered it? Was it stress, a fight with a lover? A fight with a friend? Or you're just feeling overwhelmed? Regardless of the reason, it's best to get it off of your chest. If not a friend or a parent, then find a therapist and talk it out," Nusbaum says.

12

Consult a Dietician

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Because binge eating is a true eating disorder—it's actually the most common eating disorder in the U.S.—consulting a dietitian would be your best bet to overcome it. "If a person is struggling with this, they do not have to go at it alone," says Summer Yule, MS, RDN. "There are registered dietitians who specialize in eating disorders who can help the person to develop a healthier relationship with food."

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"I like to remind my clients that having one bad day out of 365 days a year is really not that bad after all!," says De Luca. "It is my job as a registered dietitian to not only educate my clients about nutrition, but to also provide support during these hard times and to teach them how to develop a resilient mindset so that they can bounce back quickly after a binge and continue on the path toward goal attainment. After all, consistency is key!"

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14

Reframe Your Mindset

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"The reframing technique helps change your overall perspective of the situation," De Luca says. "Reframing is great because it shifts the individual's mindset in such a way that it allows forgiveness and makes the client feel more in control of the situation. For example, if I were to reframe the thought process after a binge, it [would change from] 'I just binge ate and I feel like a failure; I have no self-control' to 'I ate a little more food than I would have liked to, but tomorrow is a new day and I will get right back on track.' Your thoughts control your actions! If we can reframe the negative connotations that surround binge eating, then we are more likely to bounce back quickly after a binge."

15

Get Your Greens In

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Re-incorporating healthy fruits and vegetables is a sure-fire way to overcome a day of bad eating. "Re-adding healthy fruits and vegetables to your diet ups your fiber intake, which can improve satiety and help decrease cravings," Brittany Michels, RDN for The Vitamin Shoppe, tells us. "For those that prefer on-the-go options, greens powders are an easy way to up your greens. Plnt BioGreens is one great option and can be added to a smoothie or mixed into any drink."

16

Rid Your Kitchen of Binge Triggers

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Is that sleeve of Snickerdoodle cookies in your cabinet eyeing you? Or maybe you can't get your mind off the Costco-sized bag of sour cream and onion chips in the pantry? Either way, ridding your kitchen of trigger foods is a solid way to avoid another binge. "Throw out (or give away) all the leftovers and treats that may tempt you. Restock the pantry with healthy staples," Rebekah Blakely, RDN for The Vitamin Shoppe, says.

17

Start Now

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"Remember that every meal is a new meal," Blakely says. "Try to avoid the 'I'll start tomorrow' mentality. Start now! Have a large glass of water, go for a walk, and choose your favorite healthy breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal. Just because you're getting back on track doesn't mean you can't ever have a treat again. You're just resetting into the healthy routine you want to be your lifestyle."

FAQs

How do you compensate after a binge? ›

What to Do After You Overeat
  1. Relax. 1/12. Don't beat yourself up. ...
  2. Take a Walk. 2/12. An easy stroll will help stimulate your digestion and even out your blood sugar levels. ...
  3. Drink Water. 3/12. ...
  4. Don't Lie Down. 4/12. ...
  5. Skip the Bubbles. 5/12. ...
  6. Give Away Leftovers. 6/12. ...
  7. Work Out. 7/12. ...
  8. Plan Your Next Meal. 8/12.
27 May 2021

How do I get back on track after a big binge? ›

10 Tips to Get Back on Track After Overeating
  1. Say goodbye to guilt and negative thoughts. ...
  2. Take a day off from the scale. ...
  3. Drink plenty of water. ...
  4. Review your goals. ...
  5. Go grocery shopping. ...
  6. Remove temptation. ...
  7. Get moving. ...
  8. Listen to your hunger cues.
10 Dec 2020

Will I gain weight from binging once a week? ›

It can be useful to remember that, just as one day of dieting will not cause a person to lose weight, a day of binge eating will not cause weight gain. Although an episode of overeating can happen to anyone occasionally, some people have a binge eating disorder, which usually requires professional attention.

How much weight can you gain in a week from binging? ›

So here it is: If you live an entire week avoiding nutrition labels and making gym excuses, you can expect to gain about four pounds—one to two pounds of water weight (bloating) and one to two pounds of actual fat, Glassman says.

Should I fast the day after a binge? ›

Do not fast. Fasting after binging raises the risk of triggering a binging-fasting cycle. Fasting can make you more hungry so that you subsequently overeat.

How long does it take to burn off a cheat day? ›

When you have a cheat day, you have an excess of calories, so you need to burn them off. In this case, you can add other physical activities to the next few days to make up for it. So instead of running for 30 minutes, do 60+ for the next 2 or 3 days.

Will 4 days of overeating make me gain weight? ›

Even studies suggest that it is difficult to gain weight after one day of overeating. Some people say that they gained 4-5 kilos after six-weeks of the holiday period, but as per a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, on an average, most people gain just one kilo.

How many calories is a binge? ›

Sometimes binge eating is a planned activity and other times it is not. Most binges involve the consumption of more than 1,000 calories, with a quarter of binges exceeding 2,000 calories.

Should I eat less the day after a binge? ›

So, after a binge, you want to plan the rest of the day's meals so that you can keep a routine. If you binged during the day, plan what your dinner and supper will be. If you binged late at night, plan the next day's meals and snacks. Adhere to this plan.

How do you Debloat after a binge? ›

21 Easy Ways to Debloat After Overeating
  1. Hydrate.
  2. Grab a Banana.
  3. Take a Bath With Epsom Salt.
  4. Sort Through Your Vegetable Drawer.
  5. Take a Stroll.
  6. Buy Some Ginger.
  7. Hit The Gym.
  8. Skip the Sparkling Water.
27 Nov 2020

What is bulimia face? ›

When a person has been engaging in self-induced vomiting regularly and they suddenly stop engaging in the behaviour, their salivary glands in front of their ears (cheeks) may begin to swell. This makes their cheeks look swollen.

What happens the day after a binge? ›

After a binge, your system is overloaded with a rush of calories, sugar, and fat. In addition to causing hormone and energy levels to fluctuate, this significant excess of calories promotes fat storage, inflammation, and digestive discomfort (think bloating and constipation).

Why do I feel guilty after eating anything? ›

Food guilt is taught and often stems from learning that food is either “healthy” (AKA “good”) or “unhealthy” (AKA “bad”). When the goal of “eating healthy” is taken to the extreme, such as with diets like “clean eating,” any preconceived “unhealthy” food subsequently incurs feelings of guilt.

Why am I getting fat when I don't eat much? ›

Unintentional weight gain occurs when you put on weight without increasing your consumption of food or liquid and without decreasing your activity. This occurs when you're not trying to gain weight. It's often due to fluid retention, abnormal growths, constipation, or pregnancy.

Why am I eating 3000 calories a day? ›

If you are eating 3000 calories a day and not gaining weight, it is likely that you have a fast metabolism or a very active lifestyle and are burning all of the calories that you are consuming. You may also be losing fat at the same rate you are gaining muscle.

How long does binge weight last? ›

It takes around three days to recover from a binge and return to your regular weight. Furthermore, the amount of days it takes to lose binge weight is determined by how different the binge food is from your usual diet, your fitness and activity level, and how you react to the binge.

How do I recover after a long binge for a week? ›

How to get back on track after a binge week
  1. Take positive actions as soon as possible.
  2. Put your binge into perspective.
  3. Focus on having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.
  4. Get right back to the habits that were working before your binged.
  5. Increase your physical activity.
19 Aug 2019

Do you absorb all the calories from a binge? ›

You don't absorb every calorie you eat.

On average, roughly 95% of the calories you put in your mouth are absorbed during the digestive process. However, as you may have noticed the last time you took a number two, not every parcel you eat is entirely digested.

Why did I gain 10 pounds in a week? ›

One of the many possible culprits behind rapid weight gain in a week or weight gain over time is a slow metabolism. This is caused by numerous things, some of which cannot be controlled. These include factors like your genes, age, and hormones (1). Others include an overly restrictive diet, or specific medications.

Can I burn off what I ate last night? ›

When it comes to balancing food eaten with activity, there's a simple equation: energy in = energy out (in other words, calories eaten = calories burned). So, yes, it is possible to burn off food calorie for calorie with exercise.

Should I workout after a binge? ›

Exercise after eating too much can actually help with digestion, get your circulation pumping, and give you a little bit of energy, so, you know, you can feel more like yourself.

Will I gain weight after a cheat day? ›

Why does a cheat day cause you to gain weight? A cheat day causes some large weight increases, but weight because of water, not fat. Depending on what kind of diet you were on, loading up on carbs on a cheat day can increase your weight noticeably.

What should I train after a cheat day? ›

The day after your cheat day you should choose a high protein and veggie day. Cheat meals count tons of (bad) calories, so combine it with a low-calorie day after and it will help you to balance your calorie intake.

Will a big cheat day ruin my progress? ›

Eating your favorite meal can help keep you motivated. (But contrary to popular belief, cheat days don't boost your metabolism). Any sudden weight gain is not fat. Just make sure after you've had your fun, you get back on your fitness journey and keep working towards your goals.

What is the best time to weigh yourself? ›

Most researchers agree that it's best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning. That way, you're more likely to make it a habit and be consistent with it. Weighing yourself in the morning helps especially with age-related gains, which can be more difficult to control.

What food makes you gain weight the fastest? ›

Carbohydrates
  • Rice. Rice is high in carbohydrates. ...
  • Whole grain bread. Whole grain bread contains complex carbohydrates and is higher in protein than white bread. ...
  • Whole grain cereals. Whole grain cereals include foods such as oats, wheat, barley, and rice. ...
  • Dried fruits. ...
  • Dark chocolate. ...
  • Other starches.

Is water weight a thing? ›

Any extra water being held in the body is referred to as “water weight.” When water builds up in the body, it can cause bloating and puffiness, especially in the abdomen, legs, and arms. Water levels can make a person's weight fluctuate by as much as 2 to 4 pounds in a single day.

How do you Debloat after a binge? ›

21 Easy Ways to Debloat After Overeating
  1. Hydrate.
  2. Grab a Banana.
  3. Take a Bath With Epsom Salt.
  4. Sort Through Your Vegetable Drawer.
  5. Take a Stroll.
  6. Buy Some Ginger.
  7. Hit The Gym.
  8. Skip the Sparkling Water.
27 Nov 2020

How much damage does a binge do? ›

Complications of regular binge eating can include yo-yo dieting and obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some types of cancers, gallbladder disease, headaches, joint pain and menstrual problems for women.

Will I gain weight if I binged for two days? ›

One day of binge eating isn't going to make you fat. At one time or another you probably ate way more than you intended to eat. One day of binge eating may add a pound or two, but it's temporary water weight, not fat. Continuously eating more calories than your body needs -- day after day -- is what causes fat gain.

Should I restrict After a binge? ›

Don't restrict your food the next day.

Your first inclination is likely to cut WAY back on your food for the next few days. This only reinforces the binge/restrict mentality. You are better off eating healthfully and maybe a BIT lighter than usual if you wish as your probably won't be as hungry.

How many calories is a binge? ›

Sometimes binge eating is a planned activity and other times it is not. Most binges involve the consumption of more than 1,000 calories, with a quarter of binges exceeding 2,000 calories.

Should I fast the day after a binge? ›

Do not fast. Fasting after binging raises the risk of triggering a binging-fasting cycle. Fasting can make you more hungry so that you subsequently overeat.

What should I eat the day after a binge? ›

15 Healthy Foods to Eat After a Binge
  • Yogurt. 1/15. The probiotic power of yogurt can help tame tummy troubles brought on by too much food. ...
  • Bananas. 2/15. Blood pressure on the rise from a sodium surge? ...
  • Oatmeal. 3/15. ...
  • Green tea. 4/15. ...
  • Nuts. 5/15. ...
  • Beans. 6/15. ...
  • Eggs. 7/15. ...
  • Spinach. 8/15.
17 Dec 2020

Can one binge ruin progress? ›

They do matter. But the mathematical reality is pretty clear: a single binge alone won't do much. It's only by adding up a lot of binges that we start to see real weight gain. These numbers shouldn't mean much if you're consistent in your plan otherwise.

How fast can you lose binge weight? ›

When you stop binging and return to a healthy diet, the body will automatically begin its process of burning calories again. You can expect that if your caloric intake during your binge was around 3000-4000 for that day, then it may take two weeks before 20% of those calories that were consumed are burned.

Can 1 day of eating ruin diet? ›

In the simplest of terms, it all comes down to simple math. One pound equals 3,500 calories. That means to gain even a pound of fat in a single day, you'd have to consume 3,500 calories more than you typically eat and burn off in a day. That's quite a few extra tacos!

Why am I getting fat when I don't eat much? ›

Unintentional weight gain occurs when you put on weight without increasing your consumption of food or liquid and without decreasing your activity. This occurs when you're not trying to gain weight. It's often due to fluid retention, abnormal growths, constipation, or pregnancy.

Is 3000 calories a day too much? ›

Eating 3000 calories a day can lead to weight gain. This is because three thousand calories a day are more than an average individual needs in a day. However, some people like athletes actually do need around these many calories or even more. It is advisable to consult a professional before you start this meal plan.

What food makes you gain weight the fastest? ›

Carbohydrates
  • Rice. Rice is high in carbohydrates. ...
  • Whole grain bread. Whole grain bread contains complex carbohydrates and is higher in protein than white bread. ...
  • Whole grain cereals. Whole grain cereals include foods such as oats, wheat, barley, and rice. ...
  • Dried fruits. ...
  • Dark chocolate. ...
  • Other starches.

How do you break a binge cycle? ›

Practical Tips to Stop the Binge-Restrict Cycle
  1. Stop restricting yourself. ...
  2. Make sure you eat the next meal. ...
  3. Plan out your meals and snacks. ...
  4. Recognize that foods are not good or bad. ...
  5. Late night snacking, usually due to hunger or boredom. ...
  6. Zoning out in front of the TV, or other form of numbing out. ...
  7. Stressful situations.
29 Dec 2020

How do you not purge after a binge? ›

Five Ways to Beat the Binge/Purge Urge
  1. Take time. Clinical evidence shows the longer you can separate the action of purging from the impulse to do so, the more likely it is that the urge will lessen. ...
  2. Make a list. ...
  3. Find support. ...
  4. Take care of yourself. ...
  5. Reach out for treatment.
7 Nov 2019

What is it called when you starve yourself then binge eat? ›

Bulimia and your actions

If you experience bulimia, you might: eat lots of food in one go (binge) go through daily cycles of eating, feeling guilty, purging, feeling hungry and eating again. binge on foods that you think are bad for you. starve yourself in between binges.

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