What To Do After a Binge Day: A Compassionate Way To Get Back on Track
So you had a binge. The first thing I want you to know is that it’s okay. We are all human, and recovery is not a linear process. But you might be wondering what to do after a binge day so that you don’t get off track – and that’s where I am here to help you.
There are a lot of opinions out there about what to do after a binge day, and I don’t find all of it to be very helpful, compassionate or even accurate.
Now don’t worry, this didn’t derail your progress. And it’s what you decide to do next, and the way you treat your body going forward, that will make all the difference.
But to understand how to make progress, it’s also really helpful to understand where you’re coming from, and why you are bingeing in the first place. So, let’s make sure you understand the answer to the question: ‘what is emotional eating?’
Then, I will dive into some specifics of what to do after a binge day to take control of your habits and free yourself from guilt.
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is using food as your therapist and closest friend. It’s turning to food when you are sad, angry, bored or even excited!
Everyone emotionally eats sometimes. It might be that extra helping we feel pressured to eat at a holiday celebration, or the sweet treat we indulge in after a hard day at work or school.
There is really nothing wrong with emotional eating on its own. But, if eating is your ONLY way to cope with emotions and triggering situations – and if you find yourself emotionally eating with some frequency, then you might have a binge eating habit.
What are the signs of binge eating? They would be:
- Feeling out of control of your eating habits
- Eating unusually large quantities of food in a short period of time
- Eating until you feel uncomfortably full
- Eating when you weren’t really hungry to begin with
- Eating in secret because you feel embarrassed
- Feeling ashamed or disgusted with yourself after a binge
If that sounds familiar to you, then it would be helpful for you to know what to do after a binge day to break yourself out of the bingeing cycle.
But, that’s usually easier said than done.
It will take some practice to beat the binge, but don’t give up and don’t be too hard on yourself. I was able to let go of diets forever, learn to be comfortable around all food, and find complete food freedom in my life, and I can help you do it too.
So let’s get to it. Here are my top tips on what to do after a binge day.
Here’s what to do after a binge day: 10 compassionate tips
You may be surprised to hear that restricting, dieting and burning off your calories in the gym are not anywhere near this list. In fact, you can throw those ideas out the window.
Punishing your body won’t support your recovery, and in fact, can force you to slide into another bingeing episode.
Instead, it’s important to practise kindness with your body, give yourself some extra love – both mentally and physically – and move on with life as normal.
Here’s what to do after a binge day to get you back on track.
1. Let go of the guilt
I know when I came out of a bingeing episode, I experienced a whole host of negative experiences and thoughts. But it’s important to get those thoughts under control and be gentle with yourself.
Beating yourself up so much mentally that you turn to food again for comfort is certainly NOT on the list of what to do after a binge day!
Take a deep breath. In fact, take a handful of them.
Maybe find a guided meditation to listen to.
Finding a way to be present and mindful will really help you as you tackle what to do after a binge day.
Do something (other than eating) that brings you some peace, makes you feel good about yourself, or distracts you from your negative thoughts.
Some distracting tasks I enjoy (and you can try adding to your list of what to do after a binge day) include:
- Playing a video game
- Calling a friend
- Taking your dog for a walk
- Organising your emails
- Taking a nap
Remember that recovery is not about never having another bingeing episode. It’s about having them less often, learning why you have them in the first place, and understanding how you can get yourself out of the bingeing cycle.
And that’s what this list of what to do after a binge day is all about.
2. Journal about the experience
Journaling about your bingeing episode can help put you in a better mind state to move forward. It may also help you understand what triggered you to binge in the first place.
Did you have a negative encounter with someone today? Was it an anniversary of past trauma? Were you just really tired? Why today and not other days in the past week?
It’s okay if you don’t have the answers, but if you can pinpoint the triggers for bingeing, it can help you to binge less frequently in the future.
3. Focus on the hunger-fullness scale for your next meal – and yes, eat your next meal as usual!
The worst thing you can do after a binge is trying to diet to offset the caloric intake.
Repeat after me: A diet is NEVER the answer.
No more dieting! Isn’t that liberating!?
Give yourself the freedom to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it.
You might not particularly feel like eating after a binge, but it’s important to feed your body meals to stop the cycle and give your body some nutrients.
When you skip a meal, it keeps you in the restrict-binge cycle, and might make your next binge even more intense!
To prevent that from happening, make sure you eat your next meal as usual, and pay close attention to when your body feels full.
4. Think about filling up on nutrient-dense food first
If you’re not going to eat very much, at least make sure what you are eating is packed with nutrients. Try to get a good mix of protein, carbs and fats to give your body all the fuel it needs. It’s important to do this without being obsessive.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have any sweet or salty treats – just eat them last (and only if you’re still hungry).
Nutrient-dense foods will help to tame your cravings and aid in the digestion of your previous binge.
5. Drink plenty of water
Staying hydrated can aid digestion and boost your metabolism, so it’s particularly important to add drinking water to your list of what to do after a binge day. Make sure you add water into your daily routine. Quite often we mistake thirst for hunger.
Drink a large glass of water before you go to sleep, and a couple of large glasses in the morning, this will help to get things moving, and also fend off some of your cravings. In addition, the water can help to flush out any excess salt that might be making you feel bloated.
6. Get some sleep
After a binge, you might be feeling extra sleepy. That’s because bingeing ups your serotonin levels (that’s why it makes us feel comforted in the first place), which makes you drowsy. You don’t need to fight that. In fact, you are allowed to nap all day if your body really wants it.
Just listen to your body.
There is a chance that stress and lack of sleep are what led to your bingeing episode, to begin with, so give yourself the rest you deserve. You’ll be much better at battling cravings and understanding your hunger cues when you are well rested.
7. Wear clothes you love
Whether it’s dressing up fancy, or relaxing in some comfortable sweats, wear something that you feel FABULOUS in.
Resorting to spandex because of bloat, or squeezing yourself into something tight can equally remind you of your binge – all day long.
So, put on something that will put a smile on your face, so you are ready and raring for anything the day throws your way.
8. Avoid the scale
You binged. It happened. And some temporary weight gain probably accompanied it.
But the weight gain is just that – temporary. It won’t be a permanent addition to your frame, and it isn’t worth stressing yourself out over.
Want to know what to do after a binge day? Stay away from the scale for at least a few days. You aren’t defined by a number anyway.
9. Practise gentle exercise
like yoga or a walk
I try to caution my clients against viewing exercise as a way to combat overeating. This approach just fuels feelings of guilt and shame – plus, it’s just not realistic to attack every calorie like that.
Instead, here’s what to do after a binge day: Go for a lovely walk.
A simple walk in fresh air can make all the difference, whether it’s by yourself, your pet or your friend.
Walking is the perfect gentle exercise, because exercise doesn’t need to be gruelling to improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress. Plus, moving around can help you digest and relieve uncomfortable fullness after a binge.
Relaxing movement like yoga or a walk in the park can truly help you physically and mentally. Improving your attitude will go a long way to preventing future bingeing.
10. Practise body kindness
So that brings us to the last tip on my list of what to do after a binge day. And that is to love yourself through it.
Practising body kindness is one of the most important steps to breaking free of the bingeing cycle. That’s because bingeing is so often brought on by negative self image and feelings.
Try speaking about yourself with kindness. In fact, speak about yourself the way you would speak about your loved ones.
You are the most important loved one that you have. It’s time you started treating yourself like it.
Look in the mirror and find positive things to say instead of negative ones. Treat yourself to a long bath or a massage. Remember all the amazing aspects that make up the incredible person you are – because very few of them have to do with your weight, or even your appearance at all.
Remember your dreams.
The way you help others.
The incredible experiences you have lived through – and your body has helped you through.
You are a gift to yourself and to the world.
Thank yourself for it all.
Gently beat the binge
You are now fully equipped to handle what to do after a binge day. The next time you binge, if there is a next time, don’t worry about the bingeing – just get straight on with your life using these tips.
You experienced a binge – that doesn’t mean you are a binge eater. In fact, your eating does not define who you are.
But, if you find yourself regularly emotionally eating, and you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, you may benefit from some outside resources. You might try turning to some binge eating books, or the support of a professional or safe community.
With a little effort, and a lot of love, you can beat the binge and find food freedom.