In America overeating has become a normal part of life. There are quite a few contributing factors here. To name some: we’ve become a society of multi-tasking, so we eat while performing other tasks, such as working, watching TV, engaging in social media, etc. and therefore don’t pay attention to the portions we’re consuming. Also, because we are a society of the larger the portion the more value it has, we’re conditioned to think getting a giant plate of food equals getting a good deal, and we don’t consider the portion your body actually needs. The biggest factor however, is the misconception of fullness. People quite often overeat, because they don’t understand when to stop, as in how to tell when their bodies have had enough. A little mindful effort can help reduce overeating.
Here are some tips to help you consciously avoid overeating:
This simple mindful eating strategy is easier said than done, but will help you avoid overeating! Try to avoid eating while performing other tasks. Take the extra few minutes to just focus on eating and pay attention to your portions. One way to do this is to put your phone away! If you spend time focusing on your meal, it really shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes to eat. You can spend 20 minutes without looking at your phone. Trust me! It CAN be done! Try to actually enjoy your meal. When you take time to sit and enjoy your meal, the chances of overeating are reduced because you’re giving your brain the chance to receive the signal from your stomach that you’re getting full.
Sounds easy, right? This mindful eating strategy will take some effort, as chewing is not something we’re used to thinking about. However, studies have shown that chewing each bite of food 30-40 times may help you lose weight, because the more you chew the easier the food will be to digest. However, paying attention to chewing can also reduce your chances of overeating, because you will be more conscious of how much you’re eating. The more you chew, the more time you’re spending on your meal and therefore the more likely you’ll notice when you start to feel satisfied. Once you notice you’re feeling satisfied, the chances of eating too much are dramatically reduced, which will help you avoid overeating.
I speak more extensively about how to snack in my blog post The Right way to Snack https://www.mbxfit.com/diet/the-right-way-to-snack/, but for the purpose of this tip, I’ll just explain why snacking is important. If your metabolism is functioning properly and you’re not overeating during your major meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) you should be feeling hungry every 2-3 hours. If you are snacking properly, your body is in a constant state of digesting and burning calories for fuel. This is such an underutilized mindful eating strategy, because everyone is always trying to eat less to reduce calories. But by snacking the right way you’re keeping your body satiated throughout the day and therefore when you sit down to eat your next meal you won’t be ravenous and your chances of eating excessively will be greatly reduced and this way you will avoid overeating.
What better mindful eating strategy is there than paying attention to what you eat by writing it down? There is no better way to keep track of what and how much you’re eating than by keeping a food and mood journal. However, what is even more helpful is to pay attention to how your mood is affected by what you eat. One major component to starting one of my programs at MBX is the MBX Meal Diary/Mood Journal. All of my clients know that when you begin a program with me you receive homework. In our day and age of texting, emailing, keeping data on apps, we have grown to underestimate the extremely valuable practice of writing things down. Writing down everything, not only what you eat, but also how you feel after you eat, can become an excellent way to break mindless eating and other bad habits. Everyone has their own unique relationship with food and everyone’s mood is affected by food. However, most people have no idea how much what they eat affects their thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Are you hungry or just thirsty? I speak more extensively about this topic in my Hunger vs, Thirst blog post. Did you know your brain cannot tell the difference between hunger and thirst? Sometimes you think you’re hungry, but really you’re thirsty. So one mindful eating strategy to avoid overeating is to have a glass of water before going for that next calorie binge. You might find that you’re not actually hungry, but thirsty most of the time you’re eating at an off time.
Overeating, like anything else, is a habit. Habits are subconscious patterns we develop when we shut our brains off from making conscious choices. When these habits go on autopilot the chances of making healthy choices like portion controlling what we eat, are much more difficult. In order to break the cycle of mindless eating, which can lead to overeating, it is important to make a conscious effort to pay attention to what may be leading you to overeat. By following these steps you will be well on your way to maintaining a healthy weight!
Although my blog topics can be very beneficial to your overall health, they are not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of published information on or through my website, blog, e-mails, programs and services. However, the information may inadvertently contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. Every effort has been made to present you with the most accurate, up-to-date information, but because the nature of diet, fitness and health research is constantly evolving, we cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of our content.