By Lindsay Cohn
Even the healthiest among us have those moments when we go a little overboard (ahem, Thanksgiving). Whether it was the quantity, quality or both, the next day, you feel the pain—e.g., bloating, fatigue, indigestion, irritability.
So what can you do to recover? First, the don’ts: Don’t stress, which can negatively affect digestion even more. Also, don’t weigh yourself (see: Don’t stress).
Now for the do’s. Understand that you probably won’t feel completely “normal” today, and that’s OK; your body is resilient and this too shall pass. Next, follow these tips from registered dietician Sarah Greenfield.
Flush out your system
Greenfield suggests starting your day with 24 ounces of water with 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 3 tablespoons aloe vera, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and probiotics. “You can use about 1 teaspoon of your favorite powdered probiotic,” she advises. “The lemon and apple cider can help balance out acidity, the aloe vera is soothing for the digestive tract and can help get things moving and ready for elimination, and the probiotics put in the good bacteria that can help decrease gas and bloating.” Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day to help flush out excess salt. Try flavoring your H20 with cucumber, ginger and mint. Cucumber is hydrating, while both ginger and mint can soothe an upset stomach.
Balance your blood sugar
After a heaping helping of mashed potatoes or a second slice of pie, it’s common to wake up still feeling full. “If you aren’t hungry first thing, give your body the time it needs to digest, but then I would suggest eating something by no later than 11 a.m.,” says Greenfield. Be sure that you don’t let yourself get to point where you become so hungry that you gobble up anything in sight (like those super-rich leftovers). Eating a clean, nutritious meal that’s high in protein, fat and fiber—like scrambled eggs with spinach and avocado or salmon with roasted vegetagbles—will help balance your blood sugar and keep you satisfied longer, so you can get you back on track quicker. “Smoothies are another great way to create these types of nutrient-rich meals,” Greenfield says. “Just make sure to limit the amount of fruit to a half cup or less.”
It’s tempting to loll around on the couch or lay in bed all day. But getting moving will help you feel better sooner, and you don’t have to tackle your toughest workout to get the benefits. “Depending on how you feel—which, remember, is going to different than last week or tomorrow—an intense, moderate or light workout could be a great activity to do the next day,” Greenfield says. Not only does exercise burn calories, it also re-energizes your mind and body, firing up your cardiovascular system, stimulating your digestive tract and helping you work up a detoxifying sweat.
For some of us, a big indulgence can trigger shame, guilt or other negative emotions. Meditation is a simple way to clear out those thoughts, as well as any lingering emotional baggage you may have from being around certain family members, and help you feel calm and centered. “Even just meditating for 10 minutes can improve your emotional state,” Greenfield says. Need some help getting started? Try a meditation app.