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If enjoying all the goodies at last night's party left you feeling anything but jolly, don't despair. One too many cups of high-octane eggnog or that second piece of pie may have given you a headache or an upset stomach, but it needn't sabotage your weight-loss or fitness goals, or plunge you into a cycle of overeating.
The morning-after effects of overeating can range from the merely annoying (think tight waistbands) to serious tummy troubles. Here, how to recover when you indulged in . . .Too much fat
Eating rich desserts, such as cheesecake or ice cream, can overload your system and cause nausea and diarrhea -- especially if you've been on a low-fat diet, reports Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., adjunct assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food studies at New York University, in New York City. At the very least, you'll wake up feeling fatigued and full.
The solution: Drink lots of fluids, ideally water, to aid digestion. Eat something light and low-fat, such as fruit and cereal with skim milk. If you're queasy, toast with honey can help settle your stomach. If you have diarrhea, stick with bland foods and steer clear of fruits and vegetables.
Avoid: Starving yourself, which can worsen nausea and -- once you get hungry again -- kick-start the cycle of overeating.Too much salt
If you couldn't keep your hand out of the potato-chip bowl, you're probably feeling thirsty and bloated, says Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of the sports-medicine nutrition program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
The solution: "Consume lots of liquids early in the day -- to help flush out the fluids that salt retains," says Bonci. Good choices: water and chamomile tea, which is a natural diuretic.
Avoid: Salty fluids, such as tomato juice and high-sodium soups, spicy foods (the spices often contain added salt) and soda.
Whether you consumed an entire bag of M&M's or had three helpings of stuffing, the worst effects -- a sugar rush and/or an overwhelming urge to snooze -- will likely have passed by morning. (While fat takes at least eight hours to be broken down, the body breaks down carbohydrates within about four hours.) However, you may still feel groggy and sluggish, and -- because carbs cause the body to hold onto fluid -- parched, swollen, even stiff.
The solution: Hydrate with water and decaffeinated beverages such as herb tea. Eat light all day -- have some yogurt or cottage cheese for breakfast rather than a bagel. Be sure to include lean protein such as white-meat skinless chicken or turkey -- which will satisfy your hunger without overloading your system.
Avoid: Starting the day with sweets such as doughnuts or a Danish. Choose foods with more savory flavors instead to give your body a break, suggests Bonci.Too much alcohol
Plain and simple, alcohol leaves you dehydrated.
The solution: Drink diluted fruit juice (half water, half juice) to replace lost fluids. Bland foods such as rice, dry toast or cereal, chicken noodle soup and bananas are easy for a queasy stomach to digest (bananas also supply the B vitamins that alcohol saps out of your body).
Avoid: Acetaminophen, which, according to Franca Alphin, R.D., clinical associate in the department of community and family medicine at Duke University Student Health Services, weighs heavily on your liver -- the same organ that's processing the alcohol from the night before. To treat a hangover, take ibuprofen instead. Caffeinated beverages may keep you alert, but will cause further dehydration.
Exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing the morning after a night of partying. But a light workout is just what you need, according to exercise physiologist Carol Espel, general manager of Equinox Fitness Club, in Scarsdale, New York. "Because exercise stimulates your metabolism and heart rate, it speeds the process of flushing away alcohol and extra calories," she says. Within 10 minutes, you'll feel more alert and energized. Here's an easy routine that makes an ideal warm-up for a short walk in the fresh air.Squats
Do 10 to 20 mini squats.
How-tos: Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart and slightly turned out. Bend knees and hips as if lowering yourself to sit in a chair -- but go down only halfway. Return to standing position and repeat.Jumping jacks
Do a set of 10 jumping jacks, followed by a set of 10 split jacks.
Split jack how-tos: As in cross-country skiing, alternate bringing the left foot and right arm forward while the right foot and left arm go back.Crunches
Do two sets of 10 repetitions of crunches.
How-tos: Lie on your back on an exercise mat or rug with knees bent, pressing the small of your back into the floor. Place hands behind head. While exhaling, slowly curl up, just clearing your shoulder blades.Stretches
End with a stretch for your lower back and hips.
How-tos: Lying on your back, pull both knees toward chest and allow your upper spine to "melt" into the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. Next, extend arms straight out at sides with palms down. Let both knees fall to the right and turn your head to the left. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, take four deep breaths. Reverse sides and repeat. Finish by bringing knees back to center.
Don't weigh yourself. Though the needle on your scale will probably have inched up somewhat following a binge, it's more likely the result of fluid retention than true weight gain, according to Bonci. To gain one pound, you would need to consume a whopping 3,500 calories over your normal intake. Contrary to popular belief, the average adult gains just under a pound during the holidays.
Do watch out for the "What the heck, I already blew it" mind-set. "Eating a few brownies isn't the problem. It's everything else you eat afterward because you're angry at yourself for eating the brownies," explains Young. Accept that you overdid it, then move on and resume healthier eating habits.
Don't be tempted. Before your next celebration, eat a few peanut-butter crackers or a small piece of bread to help curb your appetite, suggests Alphin. At the party, make your first drink of the evening sparkling water to help lower your intake of alcohol. Substitute chips and dips with cut-up veggies. Wait 10 minutes before diving into an extra-rich dish. Decide whether you're really hungry or just have party jitters.
Do have fun. During a holiday get-together, try to focus on the other guests, not food. What you eat should enhance the pleasure of their company, not the other way around.