How to Bounce Back from a Food Hangover

A big meal can make you just as headachy and bloated as overdoing alcohol. Shape Brain Trust member Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D., explains how to bounce back. (If this is more than just a special-occasion thing, see: How to Finally Kick Your Weekend Overeating Habit and How to Know If Your Binge Eating Is Out of Control.)

Step 1: Movement Is Mandatory

Overeating slows digestion, which is why you feel so stuffed and sluggish, explains Kleiner, the owner of High Performance Nutrition. Plus, salty and sugary foods pull fluid from your cells, throwing off their levels. To offset these effects, get active. “Just taking a walk after eating helps restore cells’ fluid and revs metabolism, so you’ll feel better faster,” Kleiner says. (Related: Exactly What to Do When You Overeat, According to Nutritionists)

Step 2: Sip Smartly

“Drinking water keeps digestion moving and helps cells’ fluid levels stay stable,” Kleiner says. Sip four to eight ounces of water after each cocktail or glass of wine. Also smart: Skip the digestif. In a study in the British Medical Journal, participants who drank wine or cherry schnapps after a heavy meal digested their food more slowly than those who drank water. (To be fair, drinking water basically solves every problem.)

Step 3: Eat More, Not Less

Your instinct is to choose ultralight meals the next day to “make up” for a feast. But if you do, you’ll wind up hungry—and tempted to overdo it again. “Eat normally, focusing on foods that are high in insoluble fiber and low in fat, like vegetables or legumes,” Kleiner says. This type of fiber revs digestion (fat slows it), helping you recover. (Here’s more on why fiber is so important.)

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