When It Comes To Food, A Little Insanity Is Normal

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on January 18, 2003 · 0 comments

Everyone overeats now and then. What it means for you.

A day when your eating goes out of control will cause you some immediate regret. But lasting weight gain? Unlikely. Everybody eats too much now and then.

Most people believe they’ve gained pounds from this misadventure. The truth is they haven’t. They may be up a few ounces, but with sensible eating and a little exercise they’ll come off in the next few days.

We know it’s hard to believe. When you get on the scale the day after eating too much, you see a weight gain of 2 to 3 pounds. We’re talking ounces; you see pounds.

Here’s why:

Theoretically, you need to eat 3,500 extra calories to gain a pound. But 3,500 calories is quite a lot, even on your best overeating day. You probably haven’t gone that far.

The calories you eat don’t automatically go to your hips and belly. Many are burned off as heat or are used to keep your body functioning. Some will be stored as fat to be used in the future. If this storage goes unused, over time it will add up to extra pounds.

So where does morning-after weight come from?

Often the foods you overindulge in are high in carbohydrates (pasta), sugars (dessert) and sodium (most restaurant food). All of these tend to make you retain water. So, the quick weight gain is mostly fluid retention that will disappear in a couple of days.

Dr. Kelly Brownell, professor of psychology at Yale University, believes the biggest message is not to “turn a little detour into a catastrophe.”
If you have an out-of-control eating day, say “oops” and get right back on track, eating commonsense portions and being active. One short detour won’t do much damage if you get back on the right road.

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