June 26, 2013
Your Guide to Recovering from Overeating

We can usually count on our instincts to guide us in the right direction with food. Ex: fruits and veggies seem like they are more ‘nutrient-dense’ or healthy than chocolate chip cookies. In cases like that our guts are correct.

One common mistake that people make when listening to their instincts is: their recover plan from overeating. The thought process usually goes something like this: I ate too much at lunch, so I’ll skip my afternoon snack and dinner to save up for the extra calories. 

While this makes sense from a calories in: calories out perspective, it does not account for the response our bodies will give us when we go that long without food: overwhelming hunger again. That overwhelming hunger drives the urge to overeat again, then skip a few meals, and on & on the cycle goes.

The important thing is to stop the cycle right away, and do not skip meals or snacks. Continue the frequency that works well for your hunger & metabolic rate: eating every 3-4 hours or so.

But I will acknowledge one other important thing... What you eat in the meals and snacks after overindulging matters!

Goals for meals/snacks post-indulgence:


  • Focus on nutrient-dense foods. Those that give you a lot of nutritional value for not too many calories. Examples include: non-starchy veggies, fruit, high-fiber grains or lentils, low-fat dairy and lean protein.
  • Focus primarily on non-starchy veggies and berries/fruits. Lower calorie options with a lot of water, fiber and antioxidant power.
  • Keep hydrating. Besides the water in your veggies and fruits, keep drinking the plain stuff on the side. This will help you stay in-tune with not overdoing the portion sizes again.  
  • Lighter portion sizes are OK. But be careful. I would suggest only decreasing by about 1/3 – 1/2 your normal meal or snack portion size, to avoid that cycle that we were reviewing above. Too light can mean too hungry in the near future, which can mean too hard to say no to overeating again.
  • Keep tracking. Track the indulgences, just like you would track your healthful meals. Not only will tracking them keep you accountable and aware, it can help deter you from indulging again.
  • Curb cravings if needed. The above plan should help curb future cravings for most indulgences you experience. However, there are some strong “reward-cueing foods” that can cause you to continue to crave those foods for the next few days. In that case, I would suggest using stage 1 and 2 as your ‘reset buttons’. Stage 1-2 of the meal plan, with plenty of water, sleep and exercise, should kiss those cravings goodbye. For a free Stage 1 or 2 meal plan click here.


Note: it is not always ideal to continue to cycle between indulging and stage 1-2. So keep the overall balance in mind, and use the stage 1-2 occasionally vs. frequently

Last but not least: keep your support team in the loop! Your lifestyle counselor, dietitian and personal trainer are ready to help you learn more about how to make your healthy lifestyle stick.

So share with them your experiences with indulging. They will guide you through how to lessen the chances that it will happen again. Plus they will guide you through getting back on track (like with the above nutritional plan) so you can maintain your weight for life!

Written by Erika Brown

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