Have you ever experienced this? Your fasting period is over, you treat yourself to your favorite dish, maybe a large pizza from your preferred Italian restaurant. As soon as you’re done, a nasty stomach ache is tormenting and annoying you because you literally bit off more than you could chew.
If this situation sounds familiar: You’re not alone!
Of course, after fasting we want to treat ourselves. After all, we’ve made it through our fasting period. However, if we eat too much too quickly, this usually leads to discomfort and stomach issues, and in the worst case, we even endanger our health.
In this blog article, we have summarized the most common mistakes when breaking your fast and show you how to avoid them.
Why we tend to overeat after fasting
Overeating after fasting is something many of us probably know too well.
The problem: Not only does such a “food party” provide too many calories at once, it can also result in stomach pain, constipation or diarrhea.
Here are the most common mistakes and the best tips to help you be prepared for your eating periods and avoid unpleasant side effects from now on:
Mistake No. 1: We eat too quickly
Sure, our world today is hectic. Life is characterized by work, deadlines, stress and time pressure. We eat while standing in the subway, while driving, while walking or even while working.
The problem is that if we gulp down our meals quickly, we run the risk of missing the moment of satiety. This is because our feeling of satiety only sets in after about 20 minutes.
Mistake No. 2: We eat while doing something else
Everyone has probably eaten in front of the TV. It’s cozy, after all.
The big disadvantage: If we are distracted, e.g. completely into our favorite series, we don’t even notice how much we are actually eating. And bang, the bag of chips is empty, without us even noticing it.
Mistake No. 3: We eat directly from the package instead of portioning our food
The larger a bowl or package, the more we eat from it. This is proven, for example, by a scientific experiment conducted in movie theaters. The researchers distributed free popcorn, packaged in medium and large bags. Although some of the visitors had eaten before, no one left their popcorn untouched. But those with the large bags were, on average, 21 times more likely to help themselves and ate 50 percent more popcorn than those who received medium bags.
So when we have a larger amount of food in front of us, we automatically eat more because the package suggests a “portion norm” that we unconsciously orient ourselves to.
By the way, the size and color of the plate we eat from also play a role. The larger the plate and the more similar the color of the plate and the food, the more we eat. Studies show that.
Mistake No. 4: We don’t meet our nutritional needs
A lack of nutrients can also cause us to eat more than planned during eating periods.
If there is a deficiency of important vitamins and minerals in the body, our body tells us that loud and clear, in form of intense cravings.
If you have an extreme craving for chocolate, for example, the cause may be a magnesium deficiency. This is because the mineral is contained in large quantities in pure cocoa and is therefore also found in chocolate.
Chips, pretzel sticks and the like, on the other hand, contain a lot of sodium. A craving for salty snacks can therefore indicate a sodium deficiency.
The best tips to avoid overeating after fasting
1. Plan your meals
If you plan your meals for your eating window and shop accordingly, you significantly reduce the risk of overeating.
Another benefit is that planning gives you more structure and you save a lot of time and money.
If you want to know how you can manage to shop in a more structured and conscious way, read our blog post on the subject.
2. Start with a small portion and chew thoroughly
When you break your fast, start with a small portion, about half your usual size. Wait about 20 minutes afterwards and only add more if you don’t feel comfortably full.
Also, be careful not to eat directly from the container and choose a small plate that has a different colour than the food on it.
3. Eat slowly and consciously
Give your food your full attention. What does your meal look like? How does it smell and taste? Take your time to eat and enjoy consciously – with all your senses.
Eating consciously and avoiding distraction will not only help you recognize and break your eating habits. You’ll also be much more successful in controlling the amount you eat.
4. Eat enough
Even if you are doing intermittent fasting to lose weight, you should eat your fill during the eating periods. This is the only way to prevent nutrient deficiencies and associated cravings during your eating periods.
To put it in a nutshell, a nutrient-rich diet means:
- Enough protein: Of all macronutrients, protein is THE number 1 when it comes to make you feel satiated. If you cover your daily requirement (0.8 g per kg body weight per day / 0.36 grams of protein per pound), you also prevent muscle loss. You can find more exciting facts on this topic here.
- Enough healthy fats: If your body lacks certain omega-3 fats, it may demand them in form of strong cravings. Here we show you which foods are particularly suitable for meeting your needs.
- Enough vitamins and minerals: Especially if you get into a deliberate calorie deficit due to fasting, shortages can occur in other areas, which you can overcome with the help of plenty of fruit and vegetables. Under certain circumstances, supplements can also be a good choice. However, you should discuss whether and to what extent these are useful for you with your doctor beforehand.
5. Stay busy
Overeating requires time and space, which is created by boredom or loneliness, for example. Therefore, make a to-do list of activities that can keep you busy.
Then, when the craving starts, just pick a task from your list and do it.
Here’s some inspiration for your idea list:
- Clean up the apartment.
- Play a round on your PlayStation or phone.
- Do a quick workout.
- Read a good book.
- Take care of your plants (if you have any).
- Go for a walk.
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Nobody’s perfect! If a meal period doesn’t go your way, don’t judge yourself. Just because you’ve fallen into the overeating trap doesn’t mean you’re “weak” and can’t achieve your goals.
A much more effective strategy for dealing with negative feelings about a perceived failure is to forgive yourself and encourage yourself instead. That way, you increase your chance of doing things differently next time.
How to optimize your eating routine after fasting
Overeating after fasting can be associated with unpleasant consequences and, in the worst case, can make you less successful with your intermittent fasting.
With a little consciousness, the consideration of some psychological tricks (keyword plate size and color) and more indulgence towards yourself, you can avoid classic mistakes like eating too fast or too nutrient-poor and build up THE eating routine that works for you.
You’ll find your optimal fasting plan, satisfying and nutrient-rich recipes tailored to your fasting lifestyle, supportive weekly tasks, daily motivational Coachings, and more in the BodyFast app.