Women

We all go off-piste every now and then. And now wrong with that either. But if you want to minimize the damage to your body after a blow-out, then here's what to do every step of the way.

In the first minute

This is how it starts: you scoff that tub of ice cream/bag of sweets/ a family pack of crisps (insert the appropriate quantity here) and your taste buds send pleasure signals to your brain, with one message: 'More!'

As you chew, enzymes in your saliva break down the starches and sugars. To help you stop at just one tub, chew mouthfuls at least 30 times each: a US study found this fills you up quicker.

To help you stop at just one tub, chew mouthfuls at least 30 times each: a US study found this fills you up quicker.

To help you stop at just one tub, chew mouthfuls at least 30 times each: a US study found this fills you up quicker.

At five minutes...

Your stomach is working overtime to dissolve the food and carry it along to your small intestine, where nutrients like fat and protein will be absorbed into your bloodstream. Take small sips of fizzy water now. It cleanses the palette, plus studies show that a glass of it after a meal can help beat the bloat.

15 minutes in...

Next up: your stomach and small intestine are ready to alert your brain, via peptide YY and other hormones, that you are full. But the stomach then takes about 20 minutes to produce them, so if you have hovered up your meal, your brain won't get that memo until after you've helped yourself to seconds.

Our tip: slow it right down by playing classical music as you eat. Studies show you take fewer bites per second and food tastes better when listening to classical tunes.

Our tip: slow it right down by playing classical music as you eat.

Our tip: slow it right down by playing classical music as you eat.

The first hour...

Here's the serious bit. Your insulin levels have spiked to try to control the sugar in your bloodstream. Or if your binge was of the salty variety, after 30 minutes your blood vessels will become less supple. (Diets high in salt eventually lead to hardened arteries).

Note to self: do not neck a fizzy diet drink now. Studies show they can further increase insulin levels. Got it?

After an hour...

You're starting to feel sleepy, very, very sleepy... That's because a big meal sends a signal to 'rest and digest' and your available energy is diverted to digesting food. Blood goes to the intestines, less Oxygen reaches the brain. The result: you feel whacked.

Step away from the coffee. Yes it can give you a kick, but it will also cause blood sugar to rise. Instead, mix hot water and lemon with ginger and cayenne pepper digestion superheroes. A short walk will also lower blood-sugar levels.

Step away from the coffee.

Step away from the coffee.

Two hours on...

Your liver has now converted the food into absorbable nutrients. If your carb reserves aren't full (work out before eating to make sure) the fat and calories you've ingested get converted into short-term energy. And please don't booze as you eat. Your body can't store alcohol so metabolizes it first so you don't process fat and sugar as efficiently.

Translation: weight gain. If you must have a glass, wait until after dinner.

After two hours...

Your stomach is empty and blood vessels are normal again. Now book a spinning class to beat the binge guilt.

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