Five Easy Tricks That Will Help You Avoid Overeating
You know that glorious stuffed feeling you relish after a wonderful holiday meal? The feeling that sends you looking for a cozy place to lay your head and take a snooze? It’s a wonderful treat when it happens on special occasions. But when it happens all too often, and you find yourself feeling guilty about eating a bit too much, then it might be time to look into your habits and call it what it is: overeating. It’s easy to do, and you’re not the only one wondering what to do about it. Luckily we’ve got five tried-and-true tricks that can help. Ready for them?
Eat When You’re Hungry
Our bodies are smart. If we need to eat, a hormone called ghrelin causes you to be hungry. When we are full, the hormone leptin causes you to feel satisfied. Seems simple enough, right? Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. But we often eat for many other reasons than hunger alone. Food is at the center of almost every human interaction, and it can be hard to pass up a delicious treat when offered. We also tend to overeat when we are sad, bored, or even just thirsty. What’s important is tuning into your emotions and asking yourself what’s driving your next bite. If you’re not that hungry, try to find something else to do or talk to a friend about what’s bugging you.
That’s right, folks. If you’re still on the low-fat kick, you can rejoice! The world of nutritional science agrees: low fat diets don’t work. Fat is a key component to satiety – that full, satisfied feeling after a nice meal. Biologically speaking, fat is responsible for releasing the proper appetite hormones that tell your brain that you’ve had enough. It is also slower to be digested, so helps you feel fuller longer. For more information on the science of it all, see this study from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and this resource from WebMD.
Don’t Starve Yourself
Do you tend to overeat after a bout of being extremely hungry? This one’s a no-brainer. If you go too long without eating, you’re bound to overeat. Instead, if you follow our first rule (eat when you’re hungry), this shouldn’t be much of a problem. Keep a protein bar in your bag at all times, or make sure you always buy low maintenance produce, like apples, to eat on the go.
Don’t Buy It
This is another commonsense rule. If you’re prone to overeating potato chips, or licorice, or cookie dough, then don’t tempt yourself. Keep these things out of the house or make it a rule of thumb to decline them if offered. Instead of constantly testing your self-control, make it easy on yourself and just don’t buy the foods that tempt you. Instead, stock your fridge with as much fresh stuff as possible, so that when you are hungry, you have a better option.
Sometimes the best thing that can help is cutting out entire food groups for a time, to get rid of old habits and start new ones. This is similar to the idea of going “cold turkey” from junk food, but it’s a temporary measure that can help you become reacquainted with your body’s hunger cues, tastes, and needs. For example, go without sugar for a month and you’ll discover how sweet plain ol’ carrots are. Then try a piece of cake and balk at the sugar overload. There’s even research to suggest this alters your gut bacteria, which sends signals to your brain to keep loading up on the fresh stuff.
If you’re looking for a specific plan to help you reset habits, this one works wonders for shifting your focus onto nutrient-rich foods. Whatever you choose to go without (sweets or dairy, for instance) know that you’re not giving up these foods for life; you’re simply hitting the reset button and allowing yourself to tune in to what your body may be telling you.
We call these tricks “easy,” but we know they can be anything but. Find a partner to help encourage you on your journey to being free from overeating. And if you think you may have binge eating disorder, know that you are not alone. Support is just a click away.