Are YOU someone who eats too much?
Overeating manifests itself in many ways; eating for emotion or comfort, overeating and then starving, treating food as a reward, binge eating, eating large portions, binge eating “uncontrollable eating” and eating out of sadness bored or due to ‘craving’. You may be involved in one or more of these situations, but the main issue is how often they occur. For example, a person of a healthy weight may be ‘comfort eating’, however if this comfort eating is only occasional and the rest of the time they eat healthy, it may not affect to their weight and overall health. However, if ‘comfort eating’ happens on a daily basis, sooner or later the weight gain will be evident.
If you’re concerned about overeating, read these tips:
- Ask yourself: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry am I?”
If 10 is really ‘full’ and 1 is ‘hungry’ or ’empty’, try to eat when you get a 3 or 4; try not to let yourself get to level 1 or 2 as this can cause you to overeat due to being too hungry. If you score 6 or higher, try drinking a glass of water and wait 10 minutes (your brain can mistake hunger for thirst!). If you still feel hungry after this time and it’s not mealtime, try a healthy snack like a piece of fruit, yogurt or a small handful of nuts. Eating (and planning for) 3 regular meals a day, in addition to staying hydrated, will also help reduce ‘real’ cravings, i.e. ‘hunger’.
- Keep your hands busy.. find a distraction
If eating becomes an ‘activity’ beyond your usual 3 meals a day, then plan some activity that you enjoy and that you know will keep you busy, and so keep your mind your food OFF. Examples of activities include calling a friend, sewing, reading, and even doing laundry! Distraction is essential to prevent ‘head hunger’.
- Reduce temptation.. Analyze your pantry
If you have foods that are high in fat/sugar in your home, then you have put yourself in front of more temptations than necessary. For example, if you know that you are comfortable eating or binge-eating cookies, make sure these are not kept in the house. Have lower calorie, healthier ‘snacks’ on hand such as flavored rice cakes, homemade popcorn or vegetable crudités and salsa or hummus. Reducing the amount of tempting food offered will help you control ‘heart hunger’ aka ’emotional hunger’.
If you like sweets in the evening, think about portion control. Instead of buying large chocolate bars, buy ‘miniature’ versions. Choose ‘foods’ with 100 calories or less and then limit yourself to a maximum of 1 or 2 of these per night. Another tip might be to ‘pack’ your cookies: buy bags of bread and at the beginning of the week put 2 cookies in 7 bags; this is your weekly allowance and if you have bags left at the end of the week then give an extra bonus, just make up 6 bags the next week etc.
It takes your brain about 20 minutes to realize that you are eating. This means that if your meal is eaten less than this time, you may end up craving extra side dishes or desserts, etc. beside you; make a rule that you are not allowed to finish your meal until you have finished your glass of water. If you still can’t slow down, try drinking a glass of water or hot beverage after a meal and wait 10 minutes. Your cravings for dessert may decrease. If not, try a low-calorie hot chocolate drink mixed with water and a dash of unsweetened almond milk for an extra boost!
- Brush your teeth or chew gum
Making your mouth ‘mint-free’ can help reduce cravings. However, if you suffer from bloating, it is better to brush your teeth instead of chewing gum as that can cause air to be swallowed, leading to bloating.
I really hope these tips help you stop overeating on a regular basis – let me know if you have any more tips!