Oy — those late-night quesadillas or extra serving of fries might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s no fun dealing with the resulting food hangover. Excess calories, salt, sugar and fat not only leave you feeling literally weighed down and sick to your stomach, they can also make you look puffy. Of course, there’s no way to take back what you ate, but you can use your food hangover as inspo for a few lifestyle changes. Try these tweaks to look and feel better ASAP.
1. Walk It Out
Sure, you’re not quite ready for that high-intensity interval kickboxing class, but a walk around the block can help you feel a lot better. A brisk walk not only gets your heart pumping, but helps release feel-good hormones that boost your mood (and get your mind off your food hangover). Walking also helps your digestive tract get things, um, moving, so you can eliminate toxins and start feeling better soon.
2. Strike a Pose
If you don't feel like walking (or it's gross outside) practicing a few yoga poses can help get your digestion going without feeling too strenuous. Ditch aggressive forward folds like child's pose, or inversions that compress your digestive organs, and instead stretch out with a gentle runner's lunge, dancer's pose or camel pose.
3. Flush Toxins with Water
What do sugar and salt have in common (besides being delicious)? They leave you seriously dehydrated. Water actually keeps your digestive tract moving, helps your liver and kidneys remove toxins and help your skin glow, so that post-food binge dehydration can leave you feeling and looking drained and tired.
Nurse your food hangover with plenty of water — at least an ounce of water for each pound of body weight. Drink a few glasses before you head out for your walk, sip it while you work out, then carry a water bottle around for the rest of the day to rehydrate.
4. Detox Your Pantry
Now’s also a great time to clean out your pantry — the last thing you want to look at is another bag of chips. Take the opportunity to clear out any fried foods, salty or sugary snacks, processed or frozen foods or other not-so-healthy fare (including any leftovers from last night!). Make sure you also clean out the faux “healthy” treats like granola bars sweetened with agave or brown rice syrup, as well as obviously unhealthy fare.
Getting tempting foods out of the house makes it a lot easier to eat clean, since you’ll have to head to the store to indulge (rather than walk to the fridge) and puts you on track for healthier eating going forward.
5. Cleanse for a Day
Use those icky food hangover feelings as motivation to jump-start healthier eating. Trying a short food cleanse in which you only eat ultra-nutritious, unprocessed fare helps replenish your nutrients, boosts hydration and flushes lingering toxins from your body, so you’ll feel healthy and refreshed.
You don’t need to invest big bucks in a juice cleanse either. Try making your own cleanse from affordable healthy staples, like lemon, leafy greens and lentils.
6. Keep Your Perspective
Obviously, overdoing it on ultra-processed fare isn’t good for you, but even the worst food hangover won’t make or break your health. Avoid the temptation to make yourself feel guilty for your indulgence. Instead, just accept that even the healthiest among us have “cheat” days sometimes. Ultimately, eating clean is about feeling great, not beating yourself up for every single slip-up. So don't worry — today's just another opportunity to live the happiest, healthy life possible!