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Robin D. Stone is a New York City based psychotherapist, coach and consultant who works to help you achieve your most optimal self. 

5 Steps for a Food Hangover

 
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Ok, so after a couple days of feasting on fabulous Memorial Day fixings of potato salad, baked beans, barbecued chicken and turkey hot dogs (yes, hot dogs) and apple pie, I faced the down side to veering from a clean diet.


For three days I felt as if I was hung over – not from too much drink but from too much food. Instead of an achy, foggy head and upset stomach, I feel stuffed, sluggish and stopped up.

That might be too much information, but when you’re eating clean – as in lots of fresh fruit and veggies, whole grains and simply prepared fish, chicken and lean meats – food passes through you easily and regularly. 

 
 

Regularly as in at least once and sometimes more a day. But when I went off the grid and ate too much typical-though-lightened-up holiday favorites, adding extra fat, sugars, and processed foods to my system, I felt the effects almost immediately.

It started with sleepiness just after dinner on Sunday, the day I cooked. And I didn’t just cook, I burned. Put my foot up in it, as some folks say. The kids were ecstatic that we had “real” food for a change, instead of my usual (though not predictable) grilled chicken/fish/shrimp and salads. And I enjoyed longtime favorites right along with them, eating small portions, but taking second helpings. Then sleepiness set in. Along with a bulging belly, that was a sure sign that I’d eaten too much.

I felt full when I went to bed and I still felt full the next day when I woke up. But I had another helping of for lunch anyway, and then for dinner, then topped it off with another slice of pie that night. Not once all day did I “feel” my body telling me it was hungry. By Day 3, I recognized that I was veering back to old habits, so I stopped and switched gears. 

It took about three days to get my system back on track. Here’s what I did, and what you can do to cure a holiday food hangover:

* Drink more water – more than your daily 6-8 glasses – to help get things moving again

* Eat cleanly and simply again as soon as possible and for as long as possible. Fruit and protein for breakfast, a light salad for lunch and lean meats and simple veggies for dinner. No prepared, processed, wheat or dairy.

* Boost exercise – I went from a 2-mile walk every other day to a 2½ mile walk/run three days in a row, then off one day. Moving your body helps aid digestion.

* Leave 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your first of the next (snacks included!) – to give your body a chance to process what’s already there. You should feel hungry when you wake – The sensation of hunger tells you that your body is processing properly and is ready for more. 

* Be patient. It typically takes 48-72 hours for food to make its way through your system. So while you may be back on track with clean eating, your body is still on overdrive, processing all the excess calories, carbs and sugars from your splurge. It may be five days before you sense your body responding to changes you made three days ago. Think of this adjustment as turning around a big oceanliner: You can't just spin on a dime. But follow these strategies and your body will respond and "catch up" with your clean routine. A sure sign that it's catching up: You're "regular" again.

Have a Healthy Day.
Robin