Four Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals
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.
But it doesn't always stop there. Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time. I have noticed myself making all sorts of excuses to indulging such as: It's been a stressful day, I didn't sleep well last night, my kids are being jerks, I "never" get any treats... the list could go on and on! Let me tell you, the last thing my body needs when it hasn't had enough sleep or I'm extra stressed is MORE stress in the form of food. You heard me right... food can add stress to the body.
I have done multiple elimination diets including Keto, paleo, and detox diets, and while they all helped me to lose weight and resolved some symptoms I had (bloating, breakouts, etc), I still have not developed a healthy relationship with food. The years of restricting my diet out of necessity have led to some unhealthy beliefs regarding food. The necessary restrictions began to feel so restricting that I would eat whatever quantities of what I was allowed, not paying attention to fullness or satiety cues, which led to weight gain in the long run. While I'm eating HEALTHY food, and nourishing my body, I am still "overindulging", if that makes sense. The pendulum has swung to the opposite side to overcompensate for the restriction.
If you are on autoimmune protocols, Paleo, Keto, or anything in between, these following tips may be very helpful to continue a healthy relationship with food so that whatever way of eating you choose continues to benefit you in the long run and protects that relationship you have with food.
Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals:
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.
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.
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 focusing on savoring 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 the salad or the vegetables
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.
Tip #4 Pay attention to what causes you to overindulge
This may need to be tip #1, but sometimes we are not aware of what triggers us to overindulge. If I'm really stressed about the day and I'm sitting down to eat, I am more likely to overeat instead of addressing the stressor. Keeping a food journal like this one can be very helpful in discovering how you're feeling on a daily basis and how that might correspond to overeating. Its important with this piece to remain non-judgemental towards yourself as you observe patterns that lead to overeating.
Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas
If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:
● Slices of lemon & ginger (I often add lemon vitality oil to my water to help increase my water intake)
● Slices of strawberries & orange
● Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
● Chopped pineapple & mango
● Blueberries & raspberries
Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or mason jar in the morning. They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.
To your wellness,