What is a food hangover?
A food hangover is when you have eaten too much food and now you feel sick and gross. Whether you have gone on an emotional bender, indulged in one too many pieces of cake at a birthday party or eaten a whole family block of chocolate while binge watching Netflix; you will no doubt get a food hangover the next day and more than likely feel guilty for indulging in so much food. Yuck!
For those of us who have food issues (past or present) we know all about having one too many. For alcoholics its alcohol, for drug addicts its drugs, for food addicts it is food. And LOTS of it. We have lost that signal which tells us we have had enough and it has been replaced by a monster in our head who loves to tell us we are not enough, go on eat all that chocolate it tastes so good, no one loves you anyway so you may as well eat the whole tub of ice cream.
This monster causes havoc inside our minds, screaming horrible judgements at us and getting wild and wired and excited with every negative thought he helps to bring on.
It is exhausting, isn’t it? Are you tired of waking up with a food hangover? I know I was; and to be 100% completely honest, today I have a food hangover. And I feel gross. My body is tight and it is telling me to never do that again. PLEASE!
For the past 15 years or so I have not been able to eat dairy due to allergies, and the last few years I have developed a few more such as gluten and wheat. So, for the past 4 years I have not had these foods in my diet.
Recently I have been seeing a wonderful kinesiologist who has helped me to eat these foods again. Now, I didn’t decide to do this because I wanted to eat and eat and eat all of these foods. I did it so I did not have to worry about food allergies any more and be constantly concerned about the food I was eating.
I am so happy with where my diet is and the healthier foods I have introduced into my diet over the last few years. But, now that I can eat these foods my diet has changed a little bit. Although, I am not over indulging like I would have done years ago I am definitely eating foods which I don’t normally eat. If I had done this technique while I was still in the throes of my food addiction who knows where I would be right now. So I am grateful I did not discover this technique (PAT- positive association technique. Please find your local kinesiologist to see what they can do for you) back then.
How do you feel when you have a food hangover?
The list goes on.
I want to give you some practical, fun and thoughtful tips on how to manage your food hangover as well as prevent them.
Prevention is better than cure
When you go on a food bender what is your trigger? Are you feeling lonely? Are you feeling a bit lost in your life? Are you feeling like you are not enough? Are you feeling stuck? Are you feeling like you will never lose weight and be that person you long to be? Again, the list goes on. And for each of us there are going to be different triggers.
Recognising those triggers is the first step because then you can do something about them. But that is the trick. You HAVE to do something about them. You cannot ignore them forever otherwise they haunt you for the rest of your life.
My main trigger was that I wasn’t good enough. For anyone or anything. I wasn’t taught to love myself and respect myself or be proud off who I am. Also the story which ran through my head everyday was that I didn’t deserve to be happy, to have the life I wanted or to feel worthy.
When a particular story is on repeat all day, everyday then you will believe it. Whatever that story may be. Our brains believe whatever we think. Negative or positive. So why not tell it some good stuff?
I am awesome. I am capable. I can and I will. I deserve to be happy. I am happy.
Rewrite your story and give yourself the ending you really want.
Power move: grab a journal and a pen.
For as much time as you need I want you to rewrite your story. Write down the person you know is deep inside you. Allow her to come out for a little while to play. Ask her what she wants from life. Ask her how she wants to feel? Ask her what she needs to feel truly grateful and happy?
I would also like for you to write down your triggers. When you get that urge to over eat, grab your journal and write in it. Get it all out. Every last bit of emotion that you can muster. Don’t worry about how you might sound or what you are saying. Get it out. It will be a liberating experience.
You can also pick up the phone and talk to someone. Is there someone close to you you can share your trigger with? What about finding a motivation buddy you can call or text to let them know you are about to go on a bender and you need support?
Meditating on your emotions can also be a great release. Sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor with your back straight and breathe. Slowly in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth. Meditation is about focusing the mind and connecting to your inner self. When you meditate you feel closer to the real you which allows guidance to come through. This guidance provides answers you have been looking for. They have been within you all along.
Another way to prevent a food bender is to distract yourself with something enjoyable. Join a local group. Go for a walk. Head to the gym. Meet a friend and go to the movies or catch up while you buy some gorgeous new clothes. Volunteer. Start that project/hobby/book/idea you have been ignoring for too long. Start a vlog or blog and talk to others about what is going for you. Take your dog to the park or the beach. Anything to refocus your mind onto something you enjoy doing. Tell yourself you are allowed to do it but you are not allowed to make yourself feel horrible any more with a food hangover.
Nourish. Nourish. Nourish.
One of the best ways to feel better when you have a food hangover is to nourish your body with lots of yummy vegetables (YEP! I hear you groaning about it), fruit, protein, complex carbs and good fat.
When you are in the struggle of a food hangover your body is crying out for some REAL food. You may not hear those cries but they are there. One other shitty part of having a food addiction is losing the ability to listen to your body. You believe your body is hungry all the time but it really isn’t. It is all in the mind. You want to eat so you tell yourself you are hungry.
THE worst thing you can do for yourself during a food hangover is to keep eating the same foods which put you into the hangover in the first place. We have all heard of hair of the dog when it comes to an alcohol hangover but that really isn’t the smartest thing to do either. And definitely not with a food hangover.
I will talk about guilt in the next section but during your hangover I can bet you feel guilty and you are beating yourself up about how much food you ate and the type of foods which you ate during your bender. This leads to the “I don’t give a fuck” mentality resulting in a week long/month long/year long bender.
So, what can you do to nourish your body and help you to feel better?
Here is your power move:
This could be a tough one but it is an important step. Throw out any junk or processed foods you have in the house and cover them with dish soap (thanks Miranda from Sex and the City). This will prevent you from diving back in to the rubbish and eating them when you get triggered.
Replace all of those bender foods with nourishing foods. Here is a list for you to take to the supermarket.
I want you to make yourself a yummy soup, salad or smoothie to begin with and chuck in as much veg as possible. HERE are a few meal ideas and a copy of my book Groovy Smoovys to get you started. There is also a copy of my book 7 days of chocolate which gives you lots of healthy chocolate recipes.
By providing your body with such nourishing foods you will give yourself the chance to feel better; in body and in mind, because nourishing foods can do wonders.
Guilt and the power of positive thinking
How guilty do you feel after you have gone on a bender? Or you ate that extra piece of cake? Or you ate something that wasn’t on your “good food” list?
For me the guilt would hang around for days or weeks, though there was always an underlying feeling of guilt which never went away.
Guilt does not work. No matter what you may have been taught by the nuns. It only makes everything feel worse causing you to continue on your bender.
What does work is the power of positive thinking.
Positive thinking is reversing and replacing those negative thoughts running rampant throughout your mind with words of encouragement. Words of support. Words of truth. Words of confidence. Words of inspiration and words of love.
These are going to help dissolve your food hangover and welcome in feelings of lightness and love. Receive these feelings with open arms no matter how uncomfortable you may be; and remember those negative feelings were never really that comfortable anyway. You are just used to them. Allow yourself to get out of your comfort zone as this is when you will truly begin to grow, evolve and blossom.
Journal down your guilt feelings. What are they? Where are they coming from? Has someone in your past said something to you which causes you to feel guilty about what you eat?
For every negative thought you have write it down. How can you reverse it and replace it with a more positive thought?
Negative thought: I feel so disgusted right now for all that crap food I ate.
Reverse it: Nope. I am not going to think like that.
Replace it: I recognise I ate too much. I was feeling <insert emotion/feeling here>. I am a beautiful person who deserves to feel energised and good about myself. I love myself so my next meal with be a nourishing meal.
See how reversing and replacing the negative thought can have a positive impact?
If you do this often enough there will come a time when the positive thoughts far outweigh the negative ones.
I never believed that there would be a day in my life where I didn’t hate myself. I was convinced I was going to be that way forever. That I would never actually like myself let alone love myself. I still have dark moments but I am better equipped to deal with them. Life is not perfect. There is always going to be dark moments but you get to decide when you see the light again. Will it take you two weeks or will it take you two minutes?
One last piece of advice I want to share with you is to take it one meal at a time. One minute at a time. Don’t think too far ahead. Focus on the one meal you are about to eat and be mindful of the food you are choosing to put into your body. I can guarantee you that once you have been nourishing yourself with nutritious foods for a couple of weeks your body will react positively to these foods making your body resistant to those other crappy foods you used to eat.
Keep telling yourself you eat healthy now and that you choose foods which nourish your body. This is a great trick I have been using on myself for a while now. And, after my food hangover today I will be telling myself this a little bit more over the next few days.
Here is a little wrap up to prevent and manage your food hangover:
Focus on your triggers and WHY you want to eat
Find something fun to replace your bender
Nourish your body with nutritious foods
Say goodbye to guilt and kick it to the curb
Reverse and replace those negative thoughts with positive ones
Don’t think too far ahead, not yet anyway. Take it one meal at a time.
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