You know when you've just eaten something and you feel like you've transformed from a human being into a manatee. And not a calming manatee.
It seems like you have a little food baby inside you that is quickly taking over your cells a la Prometheus. And here's the sentence that comes out of your mouth:
"Ugh. I'm fat."
Being uncomfortably full does not mean you've ruined your life, that you're having an alien baby or that you are slowly turning into a large sea mammal. Although that might be pretty cute. Before I found intuitive eating, this uncomfortable feeling of being really, really, really full was synonymous with guilt. But it doesn't have to be.
Here's what it could be instead:
1. Feeling too full doesn't necessarily mean that you ate "too many" calories.
Sometimes, you eat rice, drink too much water and the rice expands in your stomach. Sometimes, you're digging into a large helping of Brussels Sprouts and the fiber makes you bloated and gassy. Sometimes, you eat something spicy and the water you drink to wash it down fills you up.Sometimes, if you're voraciously hungry for Grandma's famous holiday recipe and you eat it all without chewing, your stomach reacts badly because it has to do the extra digestion that your mouth and saliva were supposed to do.
This is why many ayurvedics recommend that you drink water prior to eating or drink small sips instead of gulping it down. Rice expands in water, fiber fills you up and gulping down a drink instead of chewing your food can cause a back-up in your stomach. According to webMD, soluble fiber increases digestive flora in your intestines which creates more gas in your tummy, too.
If you've filled up on water or fiber, chances are you didn't eat "too many" calories as most fibrous foods and water actually don't have a lot of calories.
2. Your body likes homeostasis AKA staying the same.
The main reason people say diets don't work is due to set point theory. This is the idea that your body has a genetic blueprint for what is a healthy weight range for you. That means if you start to fall below that number, you body slows down its metabolism and works really hard to maintain the weight that your DNA is telling it to maintain. Ergo, you keep eating less but you "hit a plateau" in terms of weight loss.
Really, restriction is what sets you up for weight gain because it slows down your metabolism thinking your body believes it's caught in a famine. So, as long as you're eating regularly leading up to a big meal, your body will likely do the same set-point thing it does to protect you from weight loss and speed up metabolism to accommodate that extra food.
3. Maybe you needed more food.
The Ancel-Keys study showed how restricting food can actually lead to a binge. If all you ate in a day was an egg and lite salad, you might be starving by 6 PM. If you go to dinner hungry, you will probably leave super full.
Eating more at night is really just your body getting its daily calorie intake. Holiday shopping or house cleaning or just being in the hustle and bustle of living your life can distract you from your body's natural hunger signals so you might have some extra calories to make up for when it's time to hit the feast.
4. Overeating once may not lead to permanent weight gain.
I'll admit that the perfectionist inside of me really struggled with writing that last sentence. I was totally there with you, dear reader. I think the question that used to pop into my head was, "What if it does, though?" I have been scare-mongered for years by women's magazines about how the 1-2 pounds that I gain during Christmas will slowly add up over the years.
In fact, your weight fluctuates for lots of reasons on a daily, weekly, monthly and even quarterly basis that may not be even related to the quantity of food you consumed. Your body might simply be doing the work of surviving, adding and subtracting water and other fluids and particles.
In the past few years, I've practiced intuitive eating and my weight has felt more stable than ever. I can't say for certain because I don't weigh myself much any more. When I do, I find it hasn't changed much. It definitely helps that I don't check very often. ; )
So enjoy the bacon-wrapped dates and jump into the pool of holiday feasts without worrying about turning into a manatee.