The 3 best things to do when you've "messed up" your diet.
Did you just binge on a whole load of crap? Have you indulged in something (or many things) way outside your ideal "healthy eating plan" and totally out of alignment with your diet goals and ideals?
Don't worry, I'm about to share the answers below that will help to reverse the damage caused (and possibly still being caused), and also provide tips as to how to prevent those "occurrences" from happening again in the future.
Lately, I've been inundated with questions and essentially cries for help from friends, family, and followers of Mindfully Edible; ranging from "getting back on track" a healthy diet, in need of an "extreme" meal plan to drop 'X' pounds by 'X' date, all the way to "I just binged, what should I do?".
When I get these messages, I feel 2 main things:
- Genuinely saddened for the person reaching out. Not the "Oh, that's sad and pathetic" kind of feeling. Rather, the heart-wrenching empathic "Oh god, I've been there" type.
- Like a phoney. Because guess what? I'm far from perfect myself. Sometimes I over-indulge, feel like I've 'screwed up', or have the intense desire to lose weight, "detox", etc.
Instead of hiding in those less-than-ideal feelings I've outlined above, and instead of pretending like I'm Heaven's gift to the "Wellness" World and preaching some nutrition bullshit we've all heard before: I'm going to get real...
Here's what you need to do when you've "MESSED up":
1. Quit the mental torture.
You haven't "messed up". There are no 'good foods' and 'bad foods'. Take the conscious effort to separate yourself from the food - turns out, your diet is not your identity. You're not a bad person if you eat McDonald's fries. You're no less of a person if you decide on an ice-cream instead of a green smoothie. This is the hardest but most crucial step. Once you let go of the mental anguish you're putting on yourself, everything that follows is a whole lot easier, and you'll start feeling better (including physically) faster.
2. Take a second to reflect on WHY that "occurrence" happened.
No judgement, just reflect. Was I hungry and there was literally no other option available? Was I feeling depressed and looking for comfort? Was I in a social engagement that encouraged this 'indulgence'? Either way: totally cool. It's just helpful to notice the 'why' behind it, so that maybe you can prevent it in the future - if turns out that it's something that doesn't serve you. For instance, if it's simply a matter of no "healthy" options being available to you at the time, perhaps next time you'll know to pack some of your own food. On the other hand, maybe it was a way to soothe an underlying emotion: hurt, loneliness, anxiety, etc. In that case, it's worth noting if and how the food helped - if not (usually not), what else could you do next time that might better aid the real circumstances? On another note, maybe you were just having a good time with friends and decided 'F-it', I'm just going to enjoy' - and maybe that's exactly what you needed to do. Great, be proud - own it!
3. Assist your digestion.
Now on to more the more logistical "fix-it" protocol I know you're all still dying to hear (ugh, please read the above two points AGAIN!). Look, I get it - I've been there. And without meaning to sound like some annoying Detox Health Nut princess on her high horse, here's what I've learned that's proven to be helpful and effective to 'cleanse it out' so to speak:
- Take activated charcoal --> this will bind to the rudely labelled "bad stuff" and help flush it out. You can get the capsules at any health food store, and I recently found one that also has ginger in it, so it's great for soothing your entire stomach and can also help to ease nausea (this is the one I use). The bottle says to take 1-6 capsules. I like to follow David Wolfe's advice and dose up like there's no tomorrow, so if I feel like I really want to "get rid" I'll take 8-10 (*I'm not suggesting you do the same, I'm simply sharing what I've done...and have lived to tell the tale*). Note that you shouldn't take this within 2 hours of taking any other supplements since it will essentially rid those too!
- Start the next day with a Bulletproof coffee. Coffee helps to "get things going" (i.e. stimulate a bowel movement!) which can be helpful the next morning if you need it. Why Bulletproof? Well, grass-fed butter and coffee powers the body with healthy fats, and Brain Octane Oil converts to ketones and helps push your body towards ketosis. Bonus is this tastes AMAZING!
- Have a shot of micronized L-glutamine (1 scoop in water). L-Glutamine plays a significant role in the detoxification process. It promotes gut-healing and repairs the damaged or weakened gastrointestinal tissues that manifest in a toxic body.
- Drink tea. Mint, fennel, camomile, liquorice and/or a combination of those are my favourite for easing my mind, belly and digestion overall.
- Drink lots of water - your body is a filter, so the easiest and most natural way to give it a bit of a 'cleanse' is to refuel on high-quality filtered water (or even better, if it's accessible for you: spring water!).
- HAVE A SPA DAY! Instead of binge exercising and "working it off" like you're a flipping prisoner to the world, how about using this as an excuse to 'TREAT YO SELF'. A sauna session, or even better an infrared sauna session, is an enjoyable way to help you get rid of both heavy metals and xenobiotics - sweating also eliminates hormone-disrupting BPA, which accumulates in your fat cells. You're not going to "sweat out cake", but it will probably help you to know you're sweating out other things that aren't serving you ;)
I'm tempted to add fasting to the above list, which is a great way to "reset" your digestive system and give your colon a little break. BUT being mindful that most likely the people reading this are struggling with some sort of disordered eating (and for that matter, I actually think we're all on a 'spectrum' of sorts - how can we not be in today's media world?!), I'm going to leave fasting out of the picture for now. Until you reach a healthy relationship with food and yourself, you probably aren't emotionally well-equipped to use fasting in your dietary regime. It can easily turn into an unhealthy binge-fast cycle, which, if you're not following safely (i.e. truly feasting on the right high-quality high-fat foods when you are eating) - can be dangerous both physically and emotionally.
Instead, I'm going to date to give what I believe to be the most perfect advice for exactly what to do moving forward, after a MAJOR "F-up": just go on with your life. No "major overhaul" is really needed, trust me. Your body is a naturally detoxing, powerful, and extremely resilient force of being - it can handle it! The more important thing to get a handle on is your mind, and there's nothing better for recovering from a "mistake" than with kindness, consciousness, and a whole lot of love! Go about the rest of your day/evening, and the days that follow with a greater sense of awareness. Get in tune with how you're feeling and what your body is asking for. Give it that. And keep going.
So, what's the main take-away? In 10 words or less?
Forgive. Reflect. Use a few supplemental/dietary "hacks" if you feel so called. And then: RETURN TO LIVING YOUR NORMAL LIFE BECAUSE YOU'RE ALREADY GREAT!
We're all in this together, I promise.