So you’ve just finished up a massive, delicious meal—but now, you have to pay the price for eating too much. When you overeat, your body may start to feel bloated and lethargic. You may even begin to experience abdominal pain and cramping. No matter what symptoms may accompany feeling stuffed, this physical discomfort can put a damper on the rest of your day.
While the best way to deal with overeating would be to avoid it by always eating in moderation, this is honestly sometimes easier said than done. When all your favorite foods are in front of you, the temptation might prove too great—especially during food-centric holidays like Thanksgiving. So, how do you avoid your eyes growing bigger than your stomach while indulging in a decadent, delicious meal?
If you find yourself overeating and more often than not feeling too full after chowing down, you’re not alone. In order to find out the best ways to healthily approach damage control after eating too much, we consulted a few dietitians to get their insight. So here are some dietitian-recommended tips to help you process your post-meal slump after eating too much—and for more dietitian-approved advice on healthy eating habits, be sure to also read 5 Best Eating Habits to Help Boost Your Metabolism, Say Dietitians.
Make sure you’re hydrating
Eating foods higher in sodium “can contribute to feeling ‘puffy’ or bloated the next day,” according to Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, who is the author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Expert Medical Board. That is why Goodson stresses the importance of making sure you stay hydrated before and after a big meal.
In addition to drinking plenty of water, you can also try boosting your hydration by adding a little something extra to your beverage.
“One thing you can do is hydrate throughout the day with water infusions, like this Apple Cider Vinegar Lemon “Detox” Drink or this Cranberry Orange Ginger “Detox” Water,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, also known as The Nutrition Twins. “The fluid will help to restore normal hydration status as it flushes out the excess sodium, sugar, water that’s retained with them, alleviating bloat and heaviness.”
Go for a walk after your big meal
One of the best things you can do for yourself to provide more immediate relief after eating too much and feeling overly full is to go for a walk after your meal.
“The walk will help clear your mind. And if you break a sweat, you can secrete some chemicals and small amounts of salt while also increasing blood flow to the brain,” says the Nutrition Twins. “You’ll burn a few extra calories while you’re at it too, which will help to offset some of the extra calories you may have consumed.”
If you’re not in the mood for a walk, Goodson has some alternative suggestions for moving your body after a heavy meal.
“You can start a friendly game of football in the backyard with family,” Goodson suggests. “Or if that doesn’t work, maybe hit the gym the next morning, or park at the back of all the parking lots when you head out to run errands.”
Get back on track with some vegetables
According to the Nutrition Twins, eating some antioxidant-rich, fiber-packed greens in your next meal can help get your body back to feeling better.
“Fiber from the greens helps push waste and toxins out of the colon, helping to keep you regular so you can quickly spring back and feel lighter,” the Nutrition Twins claim. “And the antioxidants in the green vegetables counteract some damage created from overindulging in inflammatory sugary, fatty, and highly-processed foods.”
Start the next morning with a balanced breakfast
One of the things you can do the day after you go a little overboard with eating is making sure you’re starting your day off with a healthy, balanced breakfast.
“The day after overeating, start with a protein and fiber-rich breakfast to get your blood sugar going in the right direction,” says Goodson. “Eggs and oatmeal or whole grain toast with peanut butter and a side of Greek yogurt are great options. This will help with feeling better throughout the day.”