When it comes to our health, no one is perfect, and we all have those weekends where the drinks are flying and the heavy brunch meals are abundant. We tend to not feel so great after these activities, and come Monday, we'll need some ways to recover from our unhealthy weekend. You might be tempted to do a juice cleanse and stay in your bed for days, but there are healthier, and more well-balanced ways to feel better after a few days of unhealthy choices, and they don't have to feel like punishments.
"Whether you were on vacation or spent the weekend BBQing with friends, mini indulgences are completely normal and sometimes essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle long-term," says Nancy Snyder, M.S., R.D., culinary dietitian at HealthyDining over email. "Instead of letting guilt or regret set in Monday morning, reward your body with fresh fuel, hydration, and fun activity."
There's no need to feel bad about your weekend, but instead you just need to look forward to restart your healthy habits. If you've had an unhealthy weekend and want to bounce back from feeling under the weather, here are nine ways to get back on track and start feeling better.
1. Drink A Lot Of Water
"After traveling, tons of activity and possibly a few cocktails, your body is dehydrated," says Katrina Scott of Tone It Up over email. "For the next two days focus on drinking half your body weight in ounces of water throughout the day. This will help reduce cravings for sugary food from the weekend."
2. Sweat It Out
"Hitting the gym (or the pavement) will immediately get you refocused," says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN over email. "The earlier in the day you can get it in, the better, because you’re more likely to eat better once you have just worked your butt off in spin or at a boot camp." Exercising can help improve your energy levels and fight fatigue, according to research from the University of Georgia.
3. Take A Steamy Shower
Taking a shower can not only help you feel more awake, but it can help rejuvenate tired looking skin as well. "Shower off the weekend," says esthetician Holly Byerly over email. "Stand in the steam. Wash and scrub that dirty face. Apply a lightweight moisturizer — the heavier hydrators tend to leave skin feeling greasy and coated."
4. Avoid Sugar
After a long weekend, you might be tempted to reach for some sugar for an energy boost, but it will only make you feel worse. "Try to stay away from refined sugar on a post-party day — this will only aggravate your skin and joints and promote further inflammation throughout the body," says Byerly. "Instead, opt for a diluted juice. Apple or watermelon are great options, and they can help to restore your blood glucose levels and stop that jittery feeling."
5. Load Up On Fruits And Veggies
"Eat the rainbow of fruits and veggies at every meal and snack," says Natalie Butler, RD, medical advisor for Healthline.com over email. "Aim for at least five cups a day. Emphasize the dark leafy greens. Colorful produce will help hydrate you, give you fiber, as well as provide numerous antioxidants to help your body combat cell damage that an unhealthy weekend can create."
6. Eat Fermented Foods
In addition to fruits and veggies, you should try to incorporate some fermented foods such as kombucha, miso, yogurt, or kimchi into your meals to aid in digestion. "Days of eating high fat, highly-processed, high-sugar, and low-fiber foods has the potential to disrupt intestinal bacteria," says Butler. "Research shows that eating this way long term affects the bacteria which in turn affects metabolism, chronic disease risk, and inflammation in the body."
7. Limit Your Salt Intake
"Feeling more bloated and swollen than usual? Take a break from the salt shaker, and limit processed foods like ready-prepared dinners, canned soup, pasta sauce, soy sauce, and store-bought dressing," says Edwina Clark, RD head of nutrition and wellness at Yummly. "Salt increases water retention and can exacerbate swelling."
8. Get Some Sleep
"Partying all weekend is bound to not just tire you out, but also wear you down," says health and wellness coach Grace Mark over email. "Give your body the eight hours of sleep it needs to be ready for the week ahead." But don't go overboard. Rather than sleeping in too much and messing with your body's natural circadian rhythms, aim for a solid eight hours of sleep in the days following.
9. Don't Overthink It
Stressing out about your unhealthy weekend is only going to make your body feel worse. "The truth is that indulging is part of a healthy lifestyle, and we all do it," says Zeitlin. "Remember that no one meal is going to make you healthy or unhealthy. So do not stress yourself out over one lost weekend. Take a deep breath, and get back on track Monday without giving it a second thought."
Remember that each day is a new day to start healthy habits, and it's never too late to change up what you're doing.
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