What is it about food?
Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing. And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.
And on occasion I think indulging ourselves and is just fine. Call it what you like: balance, everything in moderation, or the 90/10 rule. There is room for our favorite foods in a healthy diet.
But it doesn’t always stop there. Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time. And the holidays are long over!
Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.
(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)
Tip #1: Start with some water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food. But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.
Surprisingly, hunger and thirst trigger the same types of signals in your brain. Your hypothalamus, the portion of your brain responsible for controlling feelings of hunger and thirst, responds similarly whether you’re thirsty or you haven’t had enough to eat.
Both internal and external factors tell the hypothalamus when your body is hungry or thirsty. Those factors account for what we eat as well as how our diet is influenced by social context. For example, our brains are constantly accounting for things like what sort of containers food is served in or the amount of liquid that we expect in a traditional version of a dish. Then there’s the actual internal fact of what food is made of. Most foods contain some amount of water, and when they are metabolized by our bodies, they release their water content, mimicking how we process water when we’re drinking it.
Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’). Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism. Win-win!
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits? This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion. Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.
Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Tip #3: Start with a cup or soup or a salad
You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish. But don’t start there. (Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).
Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.
Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They’re “satiating”. And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your soup or salad to help avoid overeating. These are all pretty simple, yet effective ways to keep from over eating and keep you on track to a leaner you.
And if you want some help with what to eat and how to workout for a leaner, stronger you, check out my 30 Day Slim & Sculpt Program. You’ll be amazed at the difference 30 days can make!