It’s happened to all of us. The amazing aroma and delicious flavor get the best of us. Especially if we’re a bit on the hungry (read that as hangry) side.
What is *it*? Overeating at meals.
It can have a big impact on our weight, energy levels, and overall health and well-being. Of course, our body needs food to fuel it and we often (usually) eat amazingly healthy foods.
But there may be times we still overeat, so I’m going to give you three solid tips for preventing that from happening. Seriously! If you can make these three things a regular habit and part of your daily routine, you’re one up on the craving for overeating – which is actually a thing!
Sometimes holiday feasts are just amazing.
It’s not just the abundance of delicious food, but the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. All of these make it way too easy (and common) to indulge. It doesn’t always stop there though…
Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time. You know what I’m talking about, don’t pretend you don’t! So how do you avoid it? CAN you avoid it?
If you turn these three tips into habits so you don’t have to rely on willpower, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding overeating at meals, whether they’re everyday meals or happy, fancy meals. Are you ready? Here we go….
Start with some water
You knew that was going to show up somewhere didn’t you? How many times have you heard, “When you’re hungry, drink some water.” I hate to be the bearer of bad (good!) news, but this one is actually true. When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate or grab a few samples from the “finger foods” table and start chowing down.
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 big plate of food!
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’).
The water will start to fill up your stomach before you get to the trough (a not-so-nice term I use for buffet), leaving less room for the food. And, drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism. Remember last week’s post? Yup, it’s all related. But in this case, it’s a win-win
Try eating “mindfully”
Now, before you think I’m getting all woo-woo and cosmic on you, listen up. You’ve heard of mindfulness, you know to stay in the moment and not be distracted, 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 calms your brain chatter, using this same technique when you eat help focus your attention on your meal and aids in digestion. Sounds like a brain/gut connection doesn’t it? Uh huh, they’re pretty close in their relationship!
Be deliberate about this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful. Be aware of and appreciate the smell, the taste and the texture. Breathe.
All of this can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
Eating quickly can cause you to easily overeat. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full, so if you’re distracted and not paying attnetion to the signal, you can easily eat way more than needed, and go straight from hungry to stuffed in that time. It’s like a car going from 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds. There’s not enough time to enjoy the journey, or in this case, not enough time to enjoy your food.
And here’s a bonus tip: If you’re out to dinner with a bunch of friends, eat light and concentrate on the fun and conversation. Because trust me, if you’re having fun and enjoying the conversation, you’re not really going to know what you’re eating anyway. You’ll suddenlly look down and think, “HEYYYYY – what happened to that 18-inch pizza?” See? Zero to stuffed in 6.2 seconds.
Oh, and another few bonus tips: Eat at a table (not in front of the TV), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites. It all helps!
So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Start with the salad
You may be salivating 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).
Vegetatbles are full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water (see tip 1!), both of which are known to help you feel fuller sooner and longer. They’re “satiating.”
These are two cards to have up your sleeve when you’re about to indulge in a large meal. And they may keep you from having that awful “come to Jesus” talk with yourself later.
So bottom line is to have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.
Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas
Here are a few tasty (and pretty!) pre-meal or anytime water ideas if you’re not much of a plain water drinker. It also can help your water to be more appealing to your senses
Add some of these fruit combos to your large glass of water or pitcher:
- Slices of lemon & ginger
- Slices of strawberries & orange
- Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
- Chopped pineapple & mango
- Blueberries & raspberries
And if you’re wondering how to keep all those fruits on hand and not go bad, here’s a good idea: buy frozen! You can buy a bag (or several) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup or even in a pitcher for the day. They’re already washed and cut and will also help keep your water colder longer.