Did i just eat that??
July 15, 2010 12:13 PM   Subscribe

What should i do post eating an unhealthy meal or 3 to curb its effects on my brain and body?

In the recent weeks, i've been eating better in attempts to become as fit as possible. I've been watching and consuming a comfortable and proper level of fat (saturated, unsaturated), proteins, carbs, sugar, etc.
My meals for the most part have been "square" - in the sense when i am forced to eat out im eating the healthiest and most appealing item on the menu.
Likewise im exercising regularly during the week 4-5x with p90x and a HIT program ive mixed together with past crossfit experience.

This week, i will have a few instances where an unhealthy meal or 3 is unavoidable - such as indian food for a client lunch (today), upcoming bachelor party where drinking and all sorts of random food will be involved, dinners with old friends at a pizza place, etc.

I feel like im letting myself down by slacking on my diet during these moments. Likewise, going to the gym to "work off" the excess crap i just ate is difficult from a timing perspective also i dont want to be in a situation where im always thinking i need to burn off what i just ate.

What are some things i can do during these moments AFTER a meal to ease my self consciousness about what i just ate? Likewise is there anything i can do (aside from binging or something dumb) to curb the results of just eating poorly?

(I'm male, 27)
posted by AMP583 to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Drink a lot of water, make sure you get some exercise that day (it doesn't need to be right after the meal) and try not to wallow too much in the guilt.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:17 PM on July 15, 2010

There are plenty of ways you can eat and drink more responsibly when you're out. Don't eat fried foods; eat fewer carbs; all that. If you're having Indian food, skip the rice and the naan. If you're at a bachelor party, have vodka and juice or gin and diet tonic water, and pace yourself with more water.

On the flip side, having a "free day" can actually help your diet/workout plans because you don't feel so deprived. If eating more healthfully becomes a regular part of your life, you may soon find that your free days look more and more like your non-free days.

Why should you have certain moments of so-called weakness? YOU'RE IN CONTROL. If you don't want to eat unhealthy things, don't eat unhealthy things. If you want to eat something that's not in your plan, do it, but just get right back in there. Nobody's going to get on your ass for wanting to be healthy.
posted by Madamina at 12:18 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Eat in the bad stuff in small quantities.

Forgive yourself. Instead of harping on them, realize they're just temporary speedbumps and keep on moving past them.
posted by new brand day at 12:20 PM on July 15, 2010

Portion control is key, I think. If you're going to be at a party and drinking, try to avoid beer and wine. Gin and tonics, diet coke and rum, etc. That will be a big one! For snacks and "bad food," watch how much you consume. It's easy to down 2 or 3 slices of pizza, but if you stick to one slice you're doing much less harm while still enjoying the food and being social. If you're at a pizza place, get a slice and a side salad to fill you up. Try and order thin crust pizzas, and get lots of veggies on top!

Or, if you're afraid you'll end up binging on junk food because of a dearth of healthy alternatives at the party, consider bringing a snack for yourself. Pack a baggie of raw almonds to snack on (when no one's looking? haha) and you'll be less hungry when 5 pizzas are placed in front of you.

If you know the basics of what is healthy and what you've already had that day, you can make most meals decent. If you're having Indian for lunch, try just avoiding the rice and breads. Dishes like chicken curry have oils and salts and etc in it, but calorically you're doing much less damage if you don't pad your stomach with carbs. Eat lots of veggies there! Avoid the fried balls of honey :)
posted by breccia at 12:23 PM on July 15, 2010

Try to make the best choices that you can from the options that you find yourself presented with (tandoori chicken at the Indian place, things that don't consist of sugar rolled in fat and deep-fried at the bachelor party, maybe try for a whole-wheat thin-crust veggie lovers' pizza at the pizza place), but don't worry that the odd crazy week will derail your entire diet. If you eat way too many calories at dinner, maybe reduce some of the calories from your next couple meals if you feel all gross and bloated, but don't freak out too hard about eating some extra carbs.

And don't exercise more if it isn't in your training plan -- your training plan is built the way it is for a reason, and you won't get any benefit from training when you're supposed to be resting. (Plus, the concept of "needing to burn off what you just ate" by exercising is a symptom of disordered eating -- you might want to read up on "exercise bulimia". These sorts of habits are easy to fall into but difficult to shake, and can be quite dangerous if allowed to persist.)

You're probably getting your body into better shape to make your life more enjoyable; the idea isn't to subjugate your entire existence to the pursuit of the perfect six-pack (and if it is, you might want to re-evaluate your priorities).
posted by kataclysm at 12:25 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

You may also want to consider a fiber supplement shortly after eating (something like a teaspoon of metamucil or other bulk producing fiber) to speed those foods through the system. Less time in the digestive tract may not save you lots of calories, but it will make you feel better.

Oh, and go for smooth cut fiber, and it is not quite so nasty.
posted by midwestguy at 12:29 PM on July 15, 2010

You can't avoid eating junk food sometimes. Who would want to? Depriving yourself 100% of the time sucks, and in the long run discourages you from eating right.

As a former Big Fat Guy™, here is what I do, and so far I have dropped about 100 lbs:
1) Portion control - Pizza was always the worst for me. Tastes great, but not filling. So I would eat half a pie. Now, I try to get something healthy to start, and then finish with just a slice or 2 of pizza. Most pizza places offer salads, so get the best one possible, eat that, then do a small portion of pizza. You still get the indulgence, but in a controlled way. Plus, you ate something healthy to counter act that.

The thing that really helped me with this is the bags of fresh ready to eat broccoli and cauliflower. 12 ounces = 4 cups = 100 calories = very filling. I eat one of those almost daily, with a serving (2 Tbs) of low cal ranch. This helps control my hunger.

2) Limit the indulgences. If I eat unhealthy for lunch, I plan to eat extra healthy for dinner. Similarly, if I am planning a big dinner, I do a lighter lunch. If I eat bad one day, eat extra good the next. I think of it like a budget - I can spend those calories, but I need to save some elsewhere.

3) Lastly, stick with it. I can't tell you how many times I have tried losing weight, gotten sidetracked with a bad week where I didn't lose anything (or gained some), and then I quit. The big difference this time is that I have stuck with it. If you have a bad week, just pick it up and keep at it. Don't beat yourself up, just let it pass and get back on the horse.

Good luck, I'm rooting for you.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:30 PM on July 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Side note: You can eat a relatively non-fattening meal at an Indian restaurant. You just need to avoid the worst offenders, and limit yourself to reasonable portions. I'd recommend an order of tandoori chicken (being ubiquitous, relatively lean, and not covered in sauce), a non-saucy vegetable (potato and cauliflower might be good - heavier on the cauliflower), and maybe a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of rice.

"Portion Control" can help you take even the most ridiculous meals, and make them manageable from a diet perspective.

And, remember, you never fail in a diet unless you quit. If you eat this stuff today, just get beck to eating the way you want to be tomorrow.
posted by Citrus at 12:30 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Don't categorize food as "bad" and "good" in moral terms. Think of it like the fuel it is.

You should never feel you've let yourself down because you've eaten something calorie-heavy and nutrition-poor. You can be a great person even if you eat nothing but pizza for the rest of your life. You're not changing your eating habits to improve yourself morally (or if you are, it ain't going to work), you're changing your eating habits to improve yourself physically--to help your body run better by providing it with higher quality fuel. Pizza isn't evil, it's just kind of an inefficient way to fuel yourself, because it doesn't give your body the things it needs.

Some people like to characterize junk food as a "splurge." But it's the opposite! It's like needing a pair of glasses and going to thrift store and buying a pair of $0.10 1970s frames with one lens missing and the other scratched, and calling that a splurge! Please--you're the victim of that shitty pair of glasses. That bachelor party food is something you're willing to eat because it's important for you to be at the party. You're going to put up with it. But then you get to go home and put on the custom-made prescription frames that were tailored to your personal needs. There's nothing to regret, and certainly nothing to feel guilty about, just healthy food to look forward to.

(Also, please be careful about characterizing working out as "burning off food I ate." Eating food is what makes it possible for you to work out, not the other way around, and disordered eating--like exercise bulimia--can develop from viewing exercise as a way to negate your calorie intake.)
posted by sallybrown at 12:49 PM on July 15, 2010 [12 favorites]

I noticed that you don't mention how a big unhealthy meal makes you feel physically - do certain foods make you feel sleepy, overstuffed, queasy? And so on. If you can tune in to food's immediate effects on your body, you'll start to get a better sense of what, and how much, you genuinely want to eat. (This helps with exercise, too: if you discover that a hard workout makes you feel relaxed or less anxious, you'll look forward to it more.)

At the same time, stop dividing foods into "good" and "bad," and stop judging yourself based on what you eat. Forgive yourself, and don't forbid junky foods or punish yourself for eating them. Don't conflate that stuffed feeling after a buffet with failure - it's not. If I could give you a step-by-step guide to how to separate food from self-judgment, I would. If you can't learn to do it on your own, therapy can help.

You can either view yourself as lacking, and treat diet and exercise as necessary evils to get you closer to some arbitrary standard - or you can view yourself as strong and happy and constantly improving through the choices you continue to make. I can tell you from experience that the latter is more effective and pleasant.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:35 PM on July 15, 2010

If possible, take a nice post-meal stroll. I find there is a bigger difference between being completely sedentary and having a walk, than between walking and hitting the gym.
posted by Manjusri at 2:26 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing the 'free day' and portion control.
As someone who has trouble controlling portion sizes, I vote for a nice post-meal stroll. Make sure it's at least a 45-60 minute stroll. (There's some medical research that shows that length of stroll is just right to keep your blood chemistry in check after hi-sugar meals).
posted by Arthur Dent at 8:53 PM on July 15, 2010

Use a calorie counting system and relax a bit. You will feel less guilty if you realize just how much more than your neutral daily caloric intake you have to eat to gain one pound (Roughly three and a half thin crust frozen pizzas)

I dropped 50lbs in the past year and I think a key feature is that I didn't stress out over it. I decided to change the way I was going to live the rest of my life. I exercise regularly but not fanatically. I count my calories but not obsessively. I take some days off when I can't be bothered. I still eat junk and desserts when I want to but if I do I don't get to eat much else. I also limited the amount of change I imposed at once. I exercised for quite a while before dieting. I dieted for quite a while before I started running. Etc... Really I made sure one thing became a habit before focusing my willpower on the next thing because I only have so much willpower and i didn't want to spread myself too thin.

(I say this having just had Fried Chicken for dinner.)
posted by srboisvert at 3:27 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

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