How to Recover After A Long Weekend | A Dietitian's PerspectiveJul 26, 2021
Long-weekends and many larger-than-normal meals with the family? A cocktail (or several) with friends, followed by 2am take-out? Business trips with only your colleagues and the hotel-room microwave to keep you company? Several days without a fruit or vegetable in sight?
Whatever the event or occasion that's left you feeling 'out of sync' with your usual nutritional and lifestyle habits, the following article is designed to provide you with a series of Dietitian-approved tips that can help you feel like yourself again!
A question our team of Registered Dietitians in Saskatoon often receive involves how a client can best "get back on track" after a weekend of drinking, travelling, or eating foods they normally wouldn't choose. We are often hesitant to address this as we don’t want to feed into the idea that you have to do anything differently to “make up” for a weekend of fun! (Click here to learn more about our Nutrition Philosophy)
That being said, we totally understand that a few days of eating or drinking things that you wouldn't normally can leave you feeling a little "blah." This sensation can in some trigger the urge to do something ‘extreme’ to compensate for these choices, or to ‘detox’ from a weekend of drinking, snacking, or staying up late! Instead of skipping meals, cutting out food groups, or excessively exercising, your Registered Dietitians urges you to instead consider these simple tips to get back to feeling ‘normal’ within 24 hours!
1. INCREASE FLUIDS & ELECTROLYTES
Depending on your weekend adventures, you may have an increased risk for dehydration, leading to symptoms such as headaches, bloating, fatigue, or constipation. Some scenarios that increase your fluid and electrolyte needs include spending time in the sun, travelling by airplane, or drinking alcohol. To support your hydration status, consider these tips:
- Drink a big glass of water upon waking with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt
- Focus on colourful vegetables and fruits at your meals and snacks as they naturally contain electrolytes
- Consider an electrolyte supplement to mix in with your water (eg. Nuun, Biosteel, or Hydralyte)
Dietitian Courtney's Tip: Have you ever noticed your shoes feel tight after travelling via airplane? This is because changing air pressure causes fluid retention in your extremities! For this reason, your fluid needs increase when you travel by airplane. Carry a water bottle with you while travelling to ensure you have access to the fluids you need to stay hydrated!
2. PRIORITIZE FIBRE-RICH FOODS
Feeding your gut microbiome with fibre rich foods can support natural detoxification pathways in the GI tract, kidney, and liver. Additionally, fibre binds to waste products in the gut and helps to usher them out of the body through the gastrointestinal tract. Oftentimes, travelling or eating outside of your normal routine can lead to a decrease in fibre intake. We recommend embracing fibre-rich foods when you return home to your routine (eg. smoothies, oats, beans, or fresh fruit), or packing high-fibre foods for your weekend adventures (eg. high fibre protein bars, apples, bananas, or even chia seeds that you mix into water or meals for a fibre boost!). It's rare to catch one of our Dietitians out and about in Saskatoon (or beyond!) without at least one protein bar in the bottom of their bag!
Dietitian Courtney's Tip: Smoothie bowls are a great way to obtain fluids, electrolytes, and plenty of fibre. I love adding frozen avocado, chia seeds, and frozen strawberries for a creamy and fibre-filled smoothie bowl. You can find my favourite recipe here.
3. AVOID SKIPPING MEALS
It might be tempting to skip meals if your appetite is 'off' from eating differently than you normally would. However - as a Dietitian will tell you - eating regularly is one of the best ways to support your metabolism so you can get back to feeling your best ASAP! Additionally, meal skipping can lead to a cycle of under-eating and over-eating. Much like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the next, an attempt to compensate for overeating by under-eating often leads to a vicious binge-restrict cycle.
Dietitian Tip: If your appetite is low upon waking, try having something small within a few hours of waking. For example, Courtney likes having a small protein bar (ie. Oatmeal Gold bar in the flavour Natural!) which is an accessible option if you are travelling home after your weekend away! Look for bars with >15g of protein and >3g of fibre to support your blood sugars and digestion! Some options our clients love include Rx bars, Detour bars, or Pure Protein bars - all of which can be found at Costco.
4. EMBRACE GENTLE MOVEMENT
Moving your body increases circulation, sweat rate, nutrient delivery to your cells, and digestion rate - all of which are natural ways your body clears waste products. However, if you are tired from a busy weekend, you'll likely set your recovery back if you push yourself to your limit in your workout! Try adjusting your workout intensity to a level that matches your recovery or focus on gentler movement like a long walk.
Dietitian Tip: Sweat glands are another way your body releases waste products and toxicants from the body. If you're feeling a little "blah", try getting a sweat on at a hot yoga class or sauna. Just be sure to drink fluids during and afterwards to maintain your hydration status!
5. FOCUS ON SLEEP
The scope of a Registered Dietitian often extends beyond just food alone - we work to consider and respect your whole being! With that in mind, sleep is a HUGE discussion point in many of our Comprehensive Nutrition Coaching or Individualized Nutrition Support sessions. A weekend outside of your normal routine can disrupt your sleep cycle - whether that be because you were up late or had difficulty settling into a new environment. A good night's sleep is one of the most potent strategies to recover your body and increase your energy levels. By embracing an early bedtime when you get home, you can catch up on the sleep you missed over the weekend!
Our Comprehensive Nutrition Coaching program focuses on more than just nutrition - in the program, we evaluate your sleep quality and help you adopt lifestyle habits that ensure you achieve your best ever sleep!
6. GIVE YOUR DIGESTIVE TRACT A BREAK
Schedule your meals 3-5 hours apart and/or consider taking a break from eating for 12-14 hours overnight. For example, if you have your last meal at 8pm this would mean waiting to eat until 8am to 10am the next morning. Giving your digestive tract a break between meals supports the migrating motor complex (MMC) which is a process that takes into account the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract.
The MMC is often referred to as the “housekeeper” of the digestive tract as its primary job is to sweep residual, undigested material through the digestive tube and out of the body. The MMC is activated between meals or during periods of fasting. Giving your gut a 'break' activates this important housekeeping function to keep your body free from debris that can cause bacteria and dysfunction!
Dietitian Darian specializes in digestive health and can offer your support to navigate changes to routine or to help you get to the root of digestive distress.
7. EMBRACE YOUR USUAL ROUTINE
Perhaps you feel like you need to do something 'extreme' like cutting out food groups, restricting your calories, or excessively exercising in an attempt to compensate for a weekend of extra 'treats' or drinks. However, these behaviours often lead to yo-yo dieting and contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. Instead of adopting drastic measures, we as Dietitians strongly encourage you to embrace a healthy routine of movement, balanced meals, and adequate sleep. As shown in the infographic below, a weeklong vacation and two celebrations per month account for a very small percentage of a year. You'll have plenty of opportunity on the other 334 days to focus on supportive habits that will bring you closer to your goals. If you need support in building a supportive daily routine, your team of nutritionists are here to help!
8. BE CURIOUS INSTEAD OF JUDGEMENTAL
Agonizing and stressing over the weekend not only robs you of your fun memories - it can negatively impact your physical health! Chronic stress, including a self-deprecating inner dialogue, can effect digestive process and increase stress hormones that prevent you from feeling your best. Remind yourself that our food choices not only fuel our physical body but have the power to feed the soul!
If you feel like your weekend choices were not in alignment to your values, then look back on the weekend with curiosity instead of judgement. How might you adjust your choices to strike a balance between your value of health and your value of fun, friendship, travel, and/or community?
For example, perhaps you'll decide that your weekend lacked movement and you'd like to schedule in more activity as part of future travel plans. Or maybe you'll realize that you over-ate at meal-times because you were letting yourself get too hungry throughout the day. Upon reflecting, you may decide to pack travel snacks like a protein bar, fresh fruit, or beef jerky for your next adventure! By looking back at your weekend choices with curiosity, you are in a frame of mind where you can create a strategy for how you might support your body next time around.
Dietitian Hannah specializes in food relationship and can offer you professional and compassionate support if food guilt or disordered eating are holding you back from feeling your best physically, mentally, and emotionally.
For many, the weekend offers a fun opportunity to travel, connect with friends and family, and embrace adventures outside of your regular routine! These scenarios often include food and beverage choices that differ from your normal. If your body is feeling 'off', embrace fluids, electrolytes, sleep, fibre, and regular meals to get back to feeling your best in no time! And don't forget: your team of Registered Dietitians at Vitality Nutrition in Saskatoon are here to help!
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