Recently, a friend of mine came back from a weekend out of town and told me she’d been “so bad,” eating and drinking way more than she should have. So bad, in fact, that when she’d stepped on the scale the Monday after her trip, she suddenly weighed four pounds more than she had before the weekend. The thing is, it’s not as if this is the first time I’d had a conversation like this. And there have even been times when I’ve had this conversation with myself in my head. But here’s what I told my friend—and I make an effort to remind myself of the same thing when I start being too hard on myself about overindulging: Despite what the scale may say, it’s pretty much impossible to gain four pounds in two days.
Think about it: There are roughly 3,500 calories in a pound, and 14,000 calories in four pounds. Even if you ate an entire Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza (with pepperoni), you’d only take in 960 calories—some of which aren’t even necessarily excess calories that would contribute to weight gain (after all, you need a certain number of calories for dinner). Are you seeing how difficult it would be to get to 14,000 extra calories?
Now, I know that there are a lot of other, more important reasons not to stress about indulging once in a while—namely that it’s just so much nicer to practice self-compassion. But when you’re in the throes of a post-binge panic attack and you can’t seem to muster the level-headedness necessary to see that potential weight gain and “bad” eating decisions aren’t worth beating yourself up over, remind yourself that your weight and overall health aren’t about one carb- and booze-filled weekend here and there. It’s about all of the little decisions you make and how they add up over time (speaking of which, you can also easily balance out overdoing it at one meal by being more mindful and eating a little less at your next several meals). Ignore what the scale may say—it’s probably reflecting increased water retention more than anything else. Once you convince yourself that you can’t possibly have done that much “damage” to your waistline, it’ll be easier to get to a mental state where you can treat yourself with kindness, regardless of whatever you ate the night before—I promise.
Do you have any other tricks you use to prevent yourself from freaking out after overeating? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!