Friday, 4 December 2009

The Three-Day Binge Recovery Plan

What I am about to tell you might be utter nonsense. My sole qualifications are that in recent months I have done a lot of binging and recovering. I certainly don’t advocate this, and I'm usually quite annoyed with myself when it happens; but given it does, one must be prepared.

The 3-day plan places structure and context around what I think are important principles, but I suggest you tailor your own strategy based on those principles, rather than assume the three-day timeline has any special meaning.


Less Illness?
Before I describe the plan, I will say this: my theory is that this approach makes illness less likely because it coaxes the body back to full strength rather than frog-marching it there. Being an obsessive, I have in the past worn the hair shirt on days following bad behaviour. In the past, a few binges close together have caused illness. This year, an unprecedented number of consecutive binges have not yielded illness. Anecdotal, but for me, powerful.

Day 0: The Binge
You drink too much alcohol. You probably also eat too much, some or all of which is junk – sugary food, salty food, and processed food – all the things you would normally avoid. The following day, recovery must start.

Day 1: Healthy Food and Fresh air
  1. Eat healthy food: but don’t go hungry; eat as much as you need to satisfy. You may be worrying about all the excess calories you ate/drank the day before. Forget it – there will be an opportunity to compensate on days 2 and 3. Perhaps have some healthy treats. Plan to cook your favourite meal .The spectre of comfort eating will loom - if your binge included alcohol, the chances are your salt and sugar balances will be all over the place, so you may want to have more fruit than usual if you are craving sweetness.
  2. Don’t try to fast: this will be a struggle if you have a hangover – better to provide your body with the nutrients it has been deprived of forced to give up in the last 24 hours.
  3. Don’t go to the gym or exercise: it is tempting to go to the gym on day 1 - you will feel so much better afterwards. But resist this temptation – your body is at a low ebb and the risk of illness is probably greater later on if you kick it while it’s down. Feeling good in the short term does not mean it’s the best thing to do. Let your body recover first, then the benefits of the exercise will be most fully realised, and not at the expense of illness risk. ABOVE ALL, do not do some kind of long, hard cardio session – this will definitely knock back your immune system.
  4. Get some air: you won’t get the same buzz as you would from a gym session, but you will feel better nevertheless. A good walk will make you feel better about the night before without hitting your body in any significant way.
Day 2: Fast
  1. Fast / reduce your food intake. Today, this will be easier. If you already do intermittent fasting, it will come naturally; if you don’t, then just do whatever you can to reduce your calories and give your system a day of rest.
  2. Still don’t go to the gym or do hard exercise! This will be getting tough, but you must continue to resist the temptation. One thing at a time. If you wait one more day then the chances are you won’t suffer a decline in performance as a result of the binge. Plus, if you are fasting or eating less, then the increased appetite from exercise might make it harder, give that you are still not fully ‘in balance’, appetite-wise.
Day 3: Gym/Exercise
  1. Go to the gym or do some hard exercise: now you are ready. By now most of the garbage has worked its way through your system and you are restored to something approximating the day before your binge. As well as making you feel good afterwards, the stresses you apply during exercise will now also confer their usual benefits in the medium term. Short, interval-based intense exercise is better - but of course this applies at all times, not just post-binge.
See Also:
Articles on Fasting, Binging and Appetite

13 comments:

thania said...

Thanks it is much wiser to me than the urgent impulse of wanting to to do an 24 h ifast and hitting the gym.

I am not planning a bing but with x-mas and all that you never know;)

Jim Purdy said...

As they say, everybody is different. Your suggestions would not work for me, at least not all the time.

My body reacts differently to different kinds of food binges.

For example, if I've been on a high-carb binge, I'm in big trouble, because the carbs just trigger more and more binge eating. It's very difficult to break that cycle, but the only thing for me to do then is stop the carbs, and to ear some high-fat low-carb foods like avocados, cream cheese, and butter.

On those less-frequent occasions when I've been on a low-carb binge, I usually immediately feel stuffed and nauseous. At that point, I usually can't stand the sight of food. That's not too bad, because that makes it easy to do without for a while, and then ease back into a decent low-carb diet.

James said...

First of all love your site and follow on twitter. As a salesperson, I am out once a week. I do a great job following paleo (some cheats obviously) but the booze comes into play when entertaining.

I tend to cut mine into 2 days. First day is yes very very important for the food to be good and high quality. Sometimes I like to break a little sweat, just to get it going...nothing heavy or long. then, of course, the most important thing is SLEEP. SLEEP.

The next day, after a full nights sleep, I am tight so lots of DROMs before workout. Olympic lifts usually get me back to where I need to be. Good PWO meal, try to sleep well after that.

That's my two day version. If it's a REAL bender (I try to avoid, they are too painful,) Then sure, two days, but that requires a very very excessive amount of booze...

gilliebean said...

Thanks for this. What I did after thanksgiving was exactly what you described. And on the third day I exercised. And it worked for me too!

It was strange because I was all geared up to fast, but in the morning of Day 1, something told me "eat healthy today." So I did. I ate my normal low-carb, high fat, protein-rich meals. The next day I didn't fast entirely, but I decreased my grams. And the following day I exercised. It felt so much better than fasting on Day 1. Yay! I like having a plan!

Methuselah said...

Thanks for all your comments.

Jim - I agree with the carb-binge problem. The longer the carb binge, the harder to stop. My 6-day binge was VERY hard to stop.

Thanks James - I also try to avoid the REAL benders. Frankly, the day after one of those, willpower more or less evaporates entirely, so sticking to healthy food is almost impossible.

Gilliebean - sounds good. You and I obviously have similar constitutions.

BestSelf said...

Thank you for this timely post. It's good food for thought because my knee-jerk reaction is just the opposite of what you suggest: I decide to atone by fasting and am usually miserable at achieving that, which just puts me worse down the drain of self-loathing. I will take your advice (today is my 'Day 1' as I blew it yesterday) and I will eat well and avoid exercise. Let's see how it goes!

Grok said...

Probably pretty good advice for most. I actually like to jog about 4-5 hours after a huge carb binge. Generally it's not a long one, but it seems to get things normalizing in me pretty quickly.

Deanna said...

This is a great post. I usually try to fast after a binge, and it's really a toss-up whether or not I make it or I totally crash and burn. I've never tried this, so given that I crashed and burned today, tomorrow I will give this 3-day recovery plan a shot and see if it puts me in better control than my previous plan, which obviously hasn't put me in control!

Methuselah said...

Thanks BestSelf and Deanna - hope this works for you both today.

James - just remembered I forgot to mention your point about sleep - yes this is definately important on all three days. I find I sleep best in the aftermath of a binge, which perhaps points to the need for it.

Joanne at Open Mind Required said...

I think you should rename your blog...

Live Now, Pay Later

LOL!

Methuselah said...

Joanne - I was just thinking that the other day ;-)

Michael - Fat Loss Tips said...

That's an interesting take on binge drinking... This would've helped me during my university days but fortunately I've grown wiser with age.

I actually completed a 30 No Alcohol Challenge this past summer - http://www.thefatlossauthority.com/fat_loss_tips/tfla-challenge-update-no-alcohol-for-30-days-completed/

Damn near killed me :) but it was a great test of will and social skills.

Mike

Kathleen said...

I always tell people, "Don't stress about what you ate last night. Just get to the gym the next day." That said, I recommend a solid weight-training workout. Nothing gets all that glucose in the bloodstream to muscles faster than weights! Psychologically, a good workout after a binge is a boon. It helps remind people they're in control. Plus, you sweat like crazy (with all those extra calories, your metabolism's ablaze). I always sense that lifting heavy pushes all the sugar into my muscles, so it's not likely to be stored as fat. It also helps me survive the "sugar coma" feel of the "day after."

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