How about a confession to start us off? I’m a chronic overeater.
Why? I’ll have to let the shrinks sort that one out, because I sure can’t. I go through stages where I’m so on track with portion control and dietary balance, and then I go through massive times of stress where a nice home-cooked meal is just about the only thing that gets me through the day.
Then, there’s that horrible feeling, either at the end of a meal that was definitely way too big, or at the close of the day, where I just know I have eaten way too much!
So, I’ve been trying to improve, trying to break down the barriers that stop my mind from listening to my body. In the process, I’ve uncovered some great tips to stop overeating.
1. Be focused on your food.
How many of you are guilty of chowing down on food without really thinking about what we’re eating, or how much we’ve eaten? I’m one of those terrible people that eats at the same time as doing something else, like reading, watching television or playing on my phone. The fork just goes back and forth until the plate is empty, without me really considering portion size or even my appetite. So, I’ve been working on being more focused on my food as I eat it. I chew slower, and think about the texture and flavours of each bite as it happens. I’m focused only on my food and polite conversation, nothing else.
2. Withholding rarely works.
We’ve all gone through periods in our lives where we’ve withheld certain foods from ourselves for our own health. It might be dietary, or just because we think those foods, or those meals, are bad. Let me tell you that as a concept, this rarely works. The body needs food every 4 -5 hours. This means breakfast, lunch and dinner, every single day. If you skip breakfast, or eat only a small amount of food during the day, the science says you’re more likely to binge and overeat later in the evening. Fact.
3. Use smaller plates and utensils.
This is a psychological trick that frustrates my boyfriend to no end, but I actually find it works quite well for me. The key is to make everything little. I’m not talking baby food little, just smaller than normal. That means smaller plates, smaller bowls and, if you can adjust, slightly smaller cutlery. The reason behind this is all in the mind. A plate of food that’s full makes you more satisfied. Of course, if the plate you’re eating on is a big plate, you’ll eat more. If it’s a small plate though, you’ll find you’ll consume less food, but still feel just as full and not tempted to overeat.
4. Stay hydrated.
It’s amazing how often I mistake thirst for hunger. Since I realised this, I’ve felt so much better because as well as not overeating, I’m drinking more water. By keeping a closer eye on what I’ve eaten, I know when I’m really hungry and when my body is calling out for water. Now, if I get those little rumbles of hunger, I sip on a glass of water. Or if they’re particularly bad, but I know it’s definitely no hunger pain, a squeeze of lemon usually gets me through.
5. Beware of boredom.
Do you eat when you’re bored? I do. It’s one of my biggest overeating triggers along with stress. By figuring out what pushes you to overeat, you can better catch yourself before it happens. So, if I’m bored and getting hungry, I always try and do another activity first, particularly something that is physically active, or interesting. That way, I lose myself in the activity, and don’t feel like eating.
Stress is much harder, as I’m usually at my weakest point to resist temptation. That being said, I’ve found that by not keeping foods in the house that I know I tend to overeat (sweet foods and fatty foods), I can usually avoid it. If I do really feel like eating, I’ll have a piece of fruit or a boiled egg instead.
6. Be snack smart.
Snacking is not the end of the world, but the smarter you snack, the better you’ll do at avoiding overeating. The key is to eat snacks that are good for you, and high in the right kinds of energies. So while a chocolate bar might taste good, your body is going to burn it up fast and be wanting more. On the other hand, some avocado, a boiled egg, a handful of carrot sticks or some fruit are all healthy ways to snack without feeling guilty about overeating.
Stocking up with these items (i.e. bulk boiling eggs at the start of the week, pre-cutting carrots) is a great way to help you choose the right foods when you want to snack. Also, avoid falling into the thinking trap of “I deserve to eat this.” You might have worked out, or had a really hard day, but taking food out of the rewards is key.
7. Sleep it off.
Turns out there’s nothing worse for managing your appetite than not getting enough sleep. I can be a bit of a night owl, especially when my head is stuck in a good book or I’m working on a creative project. The next day, tired from the night before, I tend to opt for unhealthy foods, or eat too much. So, I’ve dedicated myself to getting my eight hours every night, and I’m feeling great. Not only am I much more energised, but I don’t feel like I need to eat those unhealthy foods just to function. Everything is working in harmony, and I love it.