We all make mistakes. Whether it’s three cheeseburgers, an entire greasy pizza or a whole tub of ice cream, sometimes we just can’t help it. Thankfully, it’s not the end of the world – even if you feel completely gross. We’ve collaborated with an expert on nutrition to give you the best recovery plan to feel better after a junk food binge. Read on to cleanse your system!
1. Eat light foods that will help your body recover
After a day of loading up on sugar and calories, you definitely want to take a step back and choose foods that won’t make you feel bloated. Mary Hartley, a registered dietician, reminds you to keep your foods light. “After a day of eating junk food, you should drink calorie-free fluids, such as water and herb tea, and not eat solids again until you are actually hungry,” she says. Don’t force yourself to eat if you’re not feeling hungry – it’s okay to go a few hours on fluids while detoxing from junk food.
Peggy Hall, a wellness expert and the creator of Living Swell, gives you a few ideas on drinks and foods that will bring your body back to normal. “Start by drinking a cup of my ‘Hot Lemony’ – juice of half lemon with one teaspoon of honey in a cup of warm water with a dash of cinnamon,” she says. “Lemon is a powerful detoxifier and will replenish your vitamin C. Honey contains B vitamins for energy. Cinnamon keeps your blood sugar levels stable for better energy.”
Hall also gives you a great idea for a cleansing salad. “Have a big salad with mixed greens (helps clean your blood), shredded carrots (helps your digestive system move out the toxic debris) with a drizzle of two teaspoons of olive oil (helps prevent the junk food from constipating you) and one teaspoon of vinegar (fat-burning),” she says. “Later, have one cup of chopped pineapple, fresh or frozen, to bring down bloating.”
Follow these tips on foods and drinks to get your body back to baseline.
2. Avoid processed foods and sweets
It goes without saying that you should avoid any of the foods that you devoured during your junk food binge. Hall notes a few specific foods that you shouldn’t be eating while trying to detox. “Avoid alcohol, sweets, salty foods, fried foods and fast foods,” she says. “One or two cups of coffee are okay, with half-and-half, no artificial sweeteners or diet sodas.” Even though Hall approves coffee, that doesn’t mean you can order your favorite sugary drink at Starbucks. Keep it as light as possible.
Mainly, avoid heavy foods that will make you feel bloated. These include red meat, cheese and anything greasy or loaded with calories. Remember, only eat when you feel hungry – and you probably don’t feel too peckish anyway after a day of eating heavy.
3. Keep your body moving
While exercise is likely the last thing on your mind with your bloated, sluggish body, you need to keep yourself moving. Exercise will encourage your digestive tract to keep moving, and in turn, keep your body feeling light. Don’t do any heavy weight-lifting, though – that might make you feel sick. Stick to light cardio until you feel better.
Hall gives you a few examples of good exercise routines after unhealthy eating. “Walking is best, outside in fresh air to help with digestion, clear your moods and lighten up your mind and body,” she says. “Going for a swim is fabulous, as well as a bike ride. Stay away from classes at the gym where you have to look in the mirror or be around other people as this might cause you more stress.” Yoga might be hard if you’re bloated, but try anything that works for you.
4. Get a good night of rest
All too often, a junk food binge goes hand-in-hand with a late night out, or even an all-night Netflix binge. While finally catching up on all fourteen seasons of your favorite show may have been worth it, your body will hate you for falling asleep at 3:00 AM. Lack of sleep, compounded by junk food, will make you feel absolutely miserable the next day.
Follow all the food and exercise tips above, but also make sure to get to bed at a decent time the day after your unhealthy eating. It will definitely help reset your body to a healthier lifestyle. Hall gives you a great tip on winding down before you go to sleep. “Sleep helps, but first, take a shower!” she says. “Feel that you are washing away the grime and gunk of the junk food. Change your clothes and wash them. Put on clean clothes, make a cup of ‘hot lemony’ and feel your body recovering and detoxifying.”
Junk food can make you feel greasy and gross – taking a shower before you go to sleep and having a ‘mini-reset’ will definitely prepare you for a better day when you wake up.
5. Follow a recovery meal plan
It can be hard to know exactly what to eat to feel better after a junk food binge, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Peggy Hall has put together a ‘recovery meal plan’ that will cleanse and nourish your body.
- Breakfast: Hot Lemony (see above), followed by a smoothie made with 1 cup fresh spinach, 1 cup frozen pineapple or mango, handful of fresh mint leaves and 1 cup almond milk. These are all detoxifying and will reduce water weight gain. One cup of coffee is fine, with a splash of half-and-half, if desired.
- Lunch: Big green salad with shredded carrots, chopped celery (great for bringing down water retention), 3 oz grilled chicken. Two tsp olive oil and 2 tsp apple cider vinegar.
- Snack: Crisp apple or pear with 15 raw, unsalted almonds
- Dinner: Make an easy detox soup with 1 chopped onion, 2 cups chopped cauliflower, and 1 handful of spinach. Put on pot with 3 cups water and boil till veggies are tender. Then blend till smooth, adding more water, if desired. Grilled salmon or tilapia (4-5 ounces) along with 1 small baked sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon.
- After dinner: Cup of ginger tea with 1 tsp honey
The day after unhealthy eating is never fun, but by following these tips, you can be well on your way to feeling healthy and happy again. It’s okay to binge out on junk food every now and then – never feel ashamed by that. We all make mistakes, and most importantly, we can recover from them. Good luck, collegiettes!