What to Do if You Overeat One Day

What to Do if You Overeat One Day

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An occasional day of overeating is unlikely to cause significant weight gain.

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Adhering to a diet is difficult. Humans are hardwired to seek out food, and the more you try to deny yourself certain foods, the more you will be tempted to cheat. Most people who follow a diet find that they will have occasional lapses. Fortunately, overeating for one day is unlikely to cause a serious setback in the goal of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Understanding and Avoiding Overeating

If you overeat for a day, one of the most important things you can do is to identify why you indulged. There are many things that can trigger excessive eating. Some people overeat because it makes them feel better, since carbohydrates and fats lead to the release of chemicals, such as serotonin, that affect mood. Boredom and stress can also trigger eating binges. Social situations can also lead to overeating, as going out to dinner is a common cause of breaking from a diet.

Putting it in Perspective

If you overeat one day, it may help you feel better to realize that there are approximately 3,500 calories in 1 pound of fat. By comparison, a large pepperoni pizza typically contains under 3,000. Consequently, its very difficult to gain a substantial amount of weight from one day of overeating. In addition, your body naturally adjusts its metabolism to account for changes in your diet. This means that if you have one day of overeating, your metabolism will increase to help burn off the extra calories.


If you overeat one day, one of the best things you can do is exercise. Exercising helps you combat any weight loss your indulging may cause in two ways. First, exercising burns calories, so you can directly burn off the extra calories that you consumed. Secondly, when you exercise, it boosts your metabolism. Aerobic exercise will burn more calories in the short term, but weightlifting will increase muscle mass, which will boost your metabolism in the long term.

Restarting the Diet

After a day of overeating, it is important to not become super critical of yourself for your lapse. Maintaining a healthy diet is difficult, and occasional lapses are common. As Nancy Molitor, a public education coordinator for the American Psychiatric Association notes, "When you turn on yourself, it's not the food, it's you that you're battling. Admit you overdid it and be honest, but recognize that you're human." Minimizing the guilt and going back to your regular diet the next day will help lessen the damage done from one day of indulging.