There is more to dieting than just eating the right things. You must also consume the right quantities.
Life often gets in the way of managing portion control during your meals. To mitigate day-to-day stress, we turn to family-size potato chip bags or wrongfully assume that an extra trip down the buffet line will calm our nerves. Despite our best efforts to eat away the heartache, overeating will often prove unsuccessful and lead to a heaping serving of severe health problems, especially if sugary treats are your go-to remedy for post-workday blues.
Understanding how to stop overeating can help you prioritize your health and wellness and avoid the dangers of eating too much and too quickly.
Create an environment conducive to healthy eating
As the age-old adage goes, you are what you eat. Conversely, what you eat is often dictated by your surroundings. For those products of their environment, consider purging processed foods from your pantry. Once you’ve sterilized your kitchen space from diet-destroying sweets, replace these high-sugar foods with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. You will then have the recipe for the perfect diet.
If this extreme kitchen makeover is more than you can chew, start by taking a second look at your countertops. Do you spot overflowing cookie jars, potato chip bags on display, or containers of chocolate chips staring you down? If so, it’s time to evict these overeating-friendly snacks from your kitchen space. Once you’ve herded these processed foods to your nearest dumpster, decorate your countertops with bowls of fresh fruit and put processed foods out of sight and out of mind (preferably in the highest cabinet available).
As an extra precaution against overeating, make an effort to store pre-chopped vegetables in your refrigerator. That way, when the desire to snack strikes, baby carrots, bell peppers, or freshly sliced cucumber will be the only snacks within reach.
Eat at the table
Mindlessly devouring an entire bag of chips while couch-bound is a habit many of us can’t seem to break. Though it’s tempting to kick up your feet and kick your snacking into hyper-gear, wolfing down an entire package of cookies is the risk you take when eating away from the dining table.
Whether you’re a roadside or deskside snacker, these bad eating habits are more likely to result in overeating. After all, tracking your serving sizes while surfing the web or operating heavy machinery poses a virtually impossible task.
The solution? A concerted effort to put your dining table to good use. When sitting down for a meal, sans computer or television screen, you’re able to devote your undivided attention to your serving sizes and your fullness level. Additionally, when seated at the dinner table, you’ll be able to enjoy your meal rather than mindlessly binging.
So kick your TV dinner table (and your cravings) to the curb by adopting a mindful approach to eating.
The first step in stopping accidental overeating is to consider your daily intake before you overindulge yourself. On those days that a coworker brings glazed donuts to the office, limit yourself to one if you haven’t had breakfast already.
When you plan for your regular meals, you’ll have better control over your diet. Rather than gorging yourself with sweets that deplete your energy levels, say yes to your health and stick to nutrient-rich foods, such as salmon, garlic, kale, and blueberries.
When shoveling food into your mouth at rapid speeds, your body cannot tell you when you are full. Slowing down allows you to bridge the gap between mind and body and listen to what your physical body is telling you.
As you eat, your stomach stretches, and the receptors in your gut tell you when to stop. You need to wait between five and 20 minutes before your stomach receptors start sending messages about your fullness level.
Focus on your food
Another way to curb your cravings is to pay attention to each bite. When you take your time and chew mindfully, you give your body time to recognize when it is satisfied. If you eat too quickly, you don’t get to enjoy your food.
So, to avoid accidental overeating, eat to taste every flavor and appreciate every texture.
Manage your stress
Overeating is a common coping mechanism for everyday stressors. Rather than succumbing to overeating to manage your stress, look for other solutions. If you notice your stress levels rising, go for a walk, listen to music, or pause to catch your breath. Whatever you do, refrain from revisiting the refrigerator or pantry because you run the risk of overeating.
Eat at consistent times
Another valuable tool in stopping accidental overeating is to eat every day at the same time. Your body will start to send signals to your brain when it is time to eat, and your metabolism will adjust to your body’s rhythm.
Eventually, you won’t feel hungry until your regular dining times.
Notice your cues
Before you start to snack, pay attention to your body’s cues. You can avoid overeating by waiting until your body is hungry.
If you eat at the same time each day, your body will send you hunger signals at the same time. Otherwise, notice when your stomach growls or when you start to feel lightheaded. Your body requires three square meals of nutrient-dense foods to survive, so don’t neglect these cues.
Rather than overeating and putting your body at risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, or other health problems, learn how to adjust your eating habits. Eat at the same time each day, be mindful when you do eat, and learn to manage your stress in a way that does not involve food.
While flavor-of-the-week diets may seem appealing, tuning into your body’s natural process will work wonders. So, find what works for you and stick with it.