Overeating Doesn’t Ruin Your Diet. This Does.

We’ve all been there. Sometimes it happens over a Sunday brunch. Other times it’s a Friday night with the gals that stretches into dawn. Or maybe it was the extended work lunch at the nearby Chinese buffet. You ate way too much.

Here is the good news.

One night of bad eating, or one meal at anytime of the day, is not going to ruin your diet. And when I say eating badly I mean eating to excess, past the point of comfort. I’m not even talking about the kinds of food and drink you are putting in your body. For the purposes of this conversation, it means just consuming far too much food in a very short amount of time.

One bad day of eating, every once in a while, is not going to ruin your diet.

Sure, it may feel like you’ve blown you’re diet. In this context ‘diet’ can mean your normal eating style or whatever you’re currently doing to try and either gain or lose weight. I’m not attaching any significance to the word ‘diet’. It’s a loaded word in our society, and in this conversation I’m talking about how you feed and nourish your body.

Don’t beat yourself up about it. Life is about managing chaos. It’s a daily endeavor of balancing priorities and learning techniques to re-center yourself when you find yourself tipped too far in one direction, i.e., not getting enough sleep, not enough recreation, or spending too much time watching television.

You probably spend more time lamenting the food or meal you ate then the time it took to consume it. You’re telling your friends, Twitter, and your personal trainer about ‘how badly you ate’ the day or night before.

By doing this you are privately and publicly shaming yourself for your poor choices. Probably in the foolish hope that it will prevent you from committing the same act again in the future.

You can stop doing that.

What if I told you that it was okay? It was okay for you to have that huge carnival of a meal?

You’d probably think I was crazy. That maybe it’s okay for other people, but it’s not okay and never will be okay for you.

To that I would say, you need to be a little nicer to yourself.

No one is perfect. Not me. Not you.

And call it what you will, call it a cheat meal if it makes you feel better. Even a really, really bad one isn’t going to destroy your diet or your fitness goals.

So let that go.

The next time you have an all out feeding frenzy. We’re talking about a monster amount of food and drink, decide to push the reset button with your next meal. As soon as you get hungry again – right then and there – you push the reset button and make smarter food choices.

What does that look like? Healthier food, portion control, and plenty of water.

Sounds simple, right?

You’d be surprised how hard it is.

Again, one bad meal won’t ruin your diet. This is what will…

When a single meal of overeating turns into an entire day of overeating, which turns into a lost weekend of over consumption – that ruins your diet.

You decided that because you overate for one meal that you should continue to feast without restraint for the remainder of the entire weekend.

So instead of making one poor meal choice, you consciously decide to make a string of bad food choices. Over and over and over again. All the while telling yourself you’ll pick things back up on Monday.

Erica Mouch, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist and self-proclaimed food therapist agrees. She often tells her clients, “if you are driving your car and get a flat tire, you wouldn’t go and make all your other tires flat. Yet somehow, when it comes to food and eating, that’s exactly what we do.”

That move will bump your progress off track.

Again, which isn’t the end of the world…but there are things you can do to stay on track.

How To Quickly Get Back On Track

We’ve already established that sometimes you are going to overeat. One of the best ways to course correct afterwards is to have a plan.

Carole Freeman, Keto diet specialist and certified nutritionist, tells her clients to prepare in advance for those moments and meals when we fall short of our own expectations. She tells them to “get in touch with their why. I want them looking at more than just the number on the scale.”

She advises her clients to write out a list of five reasons why they decided to lose weight or change their eating style. Common whys include:

  • more energy
  • mental clarity
  • reducing pain
  • reversing health issues
  • fitting better in their clothes

Carole says, “Most people who go on a diet or eating plan, their sole focus is that number on the scale and it’s really not the best measure of success and it’s also a terrible way to try and stay motivated.”

Get back on track quickly by connecting with your why.

It’s demotivating to not see the progress you want towards your goal, I’m not going to sugarcoat that aspect. But learning to make smart choices when it comes to your nutrition is going to be a journey. One that will have victories and setbacks.

Overeating every now and again is part of being human. Next time you feel like you’ve over-indulged, be kinder to yourself. You’re one meal away from hitting the refresh button and getting back on track.