My name is Annie, and I like food.

I also do Weight Watchers.

Just the other day, I went waaaaay over my points limit on food. Without going into gory details, I consumed enough calories for three days in about 18 hours.

I messed up, big time.

While it wasn’t during the recent Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to talk about it because it is very topical. There are so many events revolving around food this time of year—office parties, family get-togethers, seeing friends, bowl games, cocktails…and on and on.

So if you’re like me and are trying to eat sensibly for your health, how do you get back on track? Let me tell you a little about my situation and what I have done to grow from the experience.

I must preface this by saying I am losing weight and that is my choice for my health. I advocate healthy eating for everyone, but not weight loss to conform to society’s standards. And not “dieting” to the point you forsake all the foods you love. So if you think I’m hypocritical for being body positive and wanting to lose weight at the same time, please stop reading.

OK, now that I made the disclaimer, back to the story.

After a day of overindulging, I woke up and calculated how much I ate and drank. And I was appalled at what I had done.

You had been doing so well and now you’ve really effed it up, I told myself. Great job, Annie!

Well, I poured myself a cup of coffee and assessed how I felt.

  • I acknowledged that I ate. A lot. No sense in denying it happened. There is no one to blame but myself. No excuses. But also no beating myself up about what already happened.
  • I determined what caused me to overeat. I thought about how I was feeling at the time—depressed and bored. Depression will especially drive me to eat more than I should. Again, I’m not excusing myself, but recognizing what pushes me to turn to food.
  • I developed a strategy. I created a menu for my weekly grocery-shopping trip, which mostly consisted of fruits, veggies, healthy TV dinners, and low-sodium soups.
  • I put some guardrails in place. I blocked the websites from my two favorite pizzerias on my computer so I wouldn’t be tempted to order online. I also left my debit card in my sock drawer for the following week so I couldn’t go out for happy hour or get fast food after work.
  • I talked it out. I called one of my best friends and texted the other while I cleaned house. It reminded me that there is more to life than food and the guilt associated with it. And it also reminded me there are a lot of people who love me no matter what my size and no matter how badly I screw up.
  • I went for a two-mile walk. Enjoying the unseasonably mild fall, I walked around the neighborhood and listened to some positive, uplifting podcasts which I always have programmed into my phone. Spending time out in cool weather never fails to lift my spirits.

So I stuck carefully to the food plan I laid out. I tracked my points on my Weight Watchers app, and I stayed on the bandwagon. I called my friends or went out for a walk when I was tempted to order takeout or get a bottle of wine. I know what I need to do to overcome my depression, and I focused on me and my feelings instead of the food.

I was rewarded the next time I went to Weight Watchers—I had lost five pounds in the span of a week. That’s a drop in the bucket for me, but it is a testament to what I can do when I put my mind to it. It’s hard to say no to food or wine in the short-term, but I kept my eye on the long game. Losing weight is my goal, and acting like an adult woman in charge of her feelings resulted in real progress.

Everyone has different ways how they treat themselves after they overindulge on whatever their vice is. But please look over what I have laid out and adapt it to a plan that works for you. How can you forgive yourself when you make a mistake, but still be gentle with yourself?

Maybe you go for a bike ride. Maybe you cook a healthy dish. You talk it over with a loved one, journal, write poetry, or you have another outlet for your feelings.

Whatever it is, my hope is that you will acknowledge when you make a mistake, love yourself anyway, and come up with positive strategies for future success.

What are healthy ways you deal with depression, negative emotions, boredom, or stress? Comment below!