Thanksgiving, birthday dinner-party, big barbecue – we all overeat sometimes. And it’s okay, as long as it’s an occasional mishap. According to the USDA dietary guidelines, the recommended daily amount of calories is about 2,000 for women and about 2,600 for men – referring to individuals of both sexes who lead moderately active lifestyles. Exceeding these boundaries occasionally is not a reason for concern, according to dietitians. It won’t cause a lasting effect on your overall health, but it will cause temporary uncomfortable symptoms like stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, nausea, and heartburn. These aches will eventually pass on their own after the digestive system does its thing. However, there are some measures you can take to ease your discomfort after a big meal. Here are 6 ways to feel better after overeating.
1. Don’t Stress Too Much
Some of us have a tendency to feel very guilty and beat ourselves up after eating a larger-than-usual meal. If it’s a rare occurrence, it won’t cause you to gain weight or any other long term consequences. Associating guilt with food, however, may lead to unhealthy eating patterns over time. Instead of stressing over what cannot be undone, plan what you’re going to do to better your feeling in the days that follow.
2. Don’t Lie Down
A big meal often makes us feel tired and sleepy. It’s best if you try and resist the urge to take a nap. Lying down makes it more likely that you experience acid reflux, as it puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the muscle responsible for preventing stomach acids from going back up. Moreover, even doing a small task while standing upright, like doing the dishes, may help burn some calories.
3. Stay Hydrated – But Be Cautious!
What causes the feeling of being bloated after a big meal is the intake of sodium. Drinking water may help flush out some of the excess salt from the food you consumed, but remember – small sips are the keywords. Limit yourself to about 8 ounces (one cup) of water after a meal, and drink it slowly and moderately. Continue to sip throughout the day. If you chug a large amount of liquids, it can expand your stomach even further and give you a stomachache.
4. Avoid Fizzy Drinks
When drinking carbonated drinks, swallow gas, which can fill up the digestive system. Your system is already strained with the burden of the meal, so until that excess gas is released, it will only worsen the ‘heaviness’ that you’re feeling. In 2017, researchers found that sugar-sweetened drinks decrease fat oxidation, and thus, the body stores more fat, especially if you drink them with or right after high-protein meals.
5. Take a Walk
It may not help you feel less bloated and full, but walking can help the stomach empty more quickly, according to studies. A walk that is at least 10 minutes long can aid digestion, as well as balance blood sugar. When blood sugar spikes, which is likely to happen after a rich meal, a hormone called insulin is released. Insulin removes excess sugar from the bloodstream in two ways – it can either be burned as fuel or stored as fat. Balancing the blood sugar by walking can help you avoid storing a lot of extra fat.
6. Plan Next Meal
Going overboard on the pizza once doesn’t mean you’re doomed forever. Although thinking about food may be the last thing you feel like doing after overeating, planning ahead can be the key to help you avoid such binges in the future. Have a clear plan for your next meals and snacks, and opt for lean protein, whole-grain options, fruits, and veggies. There are plenty of apps that can help you turn meal planning into a lifestyle.