The #1 Thing You Should Do After Overeating, According to Dietitians

·4 min read

Whether you ate one (or several) more hot dogs than you had originally planned at that weekend cookout or that serving turned into an entire pint of ice cream as you caught up on your favorite Netflix series, you know the feeling. The bloated, stressed and swirling "what's next?!" thoughts that come after you know you overindulged.

While some sources may lead you to believe you should cut out all carbs and go keto ASAP, meticulously count calories until you "make up for" your extra bites or embark on a juice-only diet to "detox," we're turning to the experts for the facts about how to proceed because those "solutions" will likely lead to even more trouble. Not to mention it's far from fun (or healthy) to skip all pasta recipes...or chew nothing for days on end.

Here's the dish from dietitians about what to do after you overeat. Because overeating happens, it is normal and it will happen again. (We're human too, we get it!)

Related: 4 Foods to Eat If You Overeat

woman clutching her stomach while laying on the couch
woman clutching her stomach while laying on the couch

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The #1 Thing You Should Do After Overeating, According to Dietitians

Just like Taylor Swift famously sang, "Shake It Off," says Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D., digital nutrition editor for EatingWell says, "The best thing you can do is take a breath, let it go and move forward." She adds, "Don't try to reset or restrict, try not to stress and just go right back to 'normal' whatever that looks like. After a holiday weekend, trip or celebration there's no need to cut out all food groups or worry about all the things you ate."

Related: 7 Ways to Eat Healthier Without Counting Calories

Regardless if you overate for a single meal, a day or an entire long weekend, remember that it was just a brief period, explains Victoria Seaver, M.S., R.D., EatingWell's senior digital editor, and that's not going to make or break you.

"Even if your pants feel a little snug at first, know that things will balance out a few days after getting back to your normal healthy habits," Seaver says.

Instead of cutting out what you put into your gut, listen to it, Valente suggests. You may find you naturally crave some more vegetables after a weekend with a little more sugar and alcohol than you're used to. Terrific! Then assemble a big salad, drink some water, then go for a walk. (Or do some activity you enjoy. Seaver adds, "You don't have to exhaust yourself with some crazy workout that will leave you feeling drained and craving simple carbs to stabilize your blood sugar!")

"The key is to not view these choices as punishment for your indulgences over the past few days, but as choices you're making because they feel good," Valente says, and that mindset shift is a crucial part of the process. "If you end up beating yourself up about the brownie you said 'yes' to, the cheese board you went to town on or the extra margarita you drank—or all of the above—that stress isn't great for your health. You're also more likely to be overly-restrictive if you're dwelling on what you ate, which can lead to overeating again because you haven't been making sustainable, healthy choices."

This overeat-undereat cycle is exactly what we're trying to avoid, Seaver continues.

"Instead, listen to your cravings and respond appropriately. Our bodies do a pretty good job of letting us know what we need, so it makes sense to crave veggies after a day or a few where they were scarce," she says.

Hit the supermarket or farmers market to stock up on pre-chopped fruits and veggies from the grocery store so you don't have to go through the extra effort of chopping and peeling them yourself. Aim to add a serving of vegetables to your lunch and dinner ("but don't take away the carbs and protein!" Valente adds), plan some healthy meals that you look forward to eating and pack well-balanced, quick-fix snacks for any time you're on-the-go so you can avoid getting too hungry throughout the day.

Related: The Best Healthy Snacks to Satisfy Your Cravings

"And if you do end up craving chocolate at the end of the night, allow yourself to enjoy a piece! To help make it a more satisfying snack, try pairing it with a healthy fat, like nuts, some extra protein, such as a glass of milk or piece of cheese or fiber, like fruit," Seaver says.

Because a healthy body starts with a healthy brain, and the brain space you'll save by not fretting any longer than necessary over those "extra" calories can be used for so many more positive, productive things. Like planning an epic staycation!