11 Tips to Prevent Overeating
Do you ever want to take a nap right after a meal? Are you tired of uncontrollable, mindless snacking?
We all have had the experience of feeling uncomfortably full. It is not only physically unpleasant, but also associated with guilt, shame, and sometimes even fear and anxiety. Overeating to the extreme and with regularity can lead to weight gain and in some cases, obesity. However, the truth is that it usually does not actually lead to long-term health problems.
This means that technically, there is no reason to really be afraid of overeating. We simply want to avoid it because at the end of the day, it does not feel very good! Below are tips that I have compiled to help you eat for good health, sustained energy, and confidence.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Starting your day with sufficient energy is key for preventing an out-of-control appetite in the evening. Many people make the mistake of skipping breakfast to ‘save calories’ for later in the day. But rather than eating less, they often end up overeating because they are ravenous by dinnertime. Eating a nutritious breakfast followed by satisfying lunch and a light afternoon snack keeps the metabolism working and stabilizes energy levels. This way, you are never so hungry that your stomach turns into a bottomless pit. Start your day out with overnight chia seed pudding which is packed with fiber and will keep you satiated until lunch.
Eat Nutrient-Dense, Whole Foods
People have a tendency to overeat foods that are high in carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. This is because those foods release feel-good chemicals (primarily dopamine) in the brain that effectively make them addictive. In order to minimize these cravings, it is important to nourish your body with all of the nutrients that it needs. Prioritize eating whole foods that are dense in protein, fiber, and good fats that will keep you feeling satisfied. Some good examples are grass-fed meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Check out my recipe for low carb chicken fajitas and veggies.
Listen to Your Body
Honoring your hunger and fullness signals will help you eat just the right amount—until you feel satisfied, but not totally full. Eating slowly and allowing time for digestion can help you avoid under-eating or overeating. Under-eating leads to overeating because your body thinks that it is starving and increases your appetite to compensate. Feeling the need to finish what is on your plate or adhere to a serving size can also cause you to eat beyond fullness. If you do not have room for the full portion, no worries—you can always save the rest for later!
Sometimes thirst can be disguised by the desire for food—you may feel hungry, but in reality your body is dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a simple way to prevent false cravings and curb your appetite. Studies are showingthat increased water intake is associated with decreased calorie intake and reduced hunger, preventing overeating and even promoting weight loss. Staying hydrated also helps with digestion, allowing you to be aware of your changing hunger levels. Try flavoring your water with my fave concoction – peaches, rosemary and cinnamon, my infused water.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Have you ever sat at your desk, yawned, and then reached for a muffin? Since sleep deprivation, like food deprivation, leads to a lack of energy during the day, tiredness can be mistaken for hunger. This is because insufficient sleep prompts the body’s survival mechanisms to induce an unnaturally strong hunger response. About 35% of Americans do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. If you are someone who does not get this recommended minimum amount, work more time into your schedule to sleep!
One of the major causes of overeating is dieting. This is because the more you try to regulate and restrict your eating, the greater urge you have to break the rules. Cutting out calories or food groups will eventually cause you to feel deprived and resort to overeating. Therefore, it is important to allow yourself the freedom to honor your cravings (when they are real). Mindfully indulging in your favorite treats gives you the opportunity to enjoy and savor the foods that you love. It is a great way to remind yourself that they are always available to you, so you don’t have to go crazy with them all at once!
Do More Strength than Cardio
Regular exercise can serve as an additional source of motivation to treat your body well. However, it is important to keep in mind that certain exercises actually have the potential to be counterproductive. While people tend to associate running, cycling, and other cardiovascular exercises with weight loss, these activities tend to boost your appetite and cause you to overeat. Strength training, on the other hand, boosts metabolism in the long run by building muscle tissue.
Keep A Food Journal
Food journals are great tools for weight maintenance and loss. Keeping track of what you eat in a day will help to prevent overeating. Think of the food journal as your personal nutritionist who is holding you accountable. You will make healthier choices by being more aware of the foods that you are eating. At the end of the day, it will feel good to see that you have been treating your body right!
Try To Plate Your Food
Eating nuts out of a bag, crackers out of a package, or takeout straight from the box can easily cause you to overeat. This is because your portion is virtually unlimited. In order to combat mindless overeating, it is important to think about how much food you really want and then put that amount on a plate. This will help you to be aware of your portion sizes and prevent uncontrolled calorie consumption. So the next time you want to add granola to your yogurt, first measure out the serving.
Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Fiber not only ushers toxins out of the body and prevents diseases, but also plays a major role in preventing overeating. Since fiber is indigestible and expands in your stomach, eating it can keep you feeling full for hours. Given that it has zero calories, consuming lots of fiber is a perfect way to keep hunger at bay while also allowing for weight maintenance and loss. Fiber-rich foods include berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, whole grains, and beans. One of my favorite delicious high-fiber meals is zucchini noodles with lentil Bolognese.
Preparation is key for preventing overeating when hunger strikes. If you tend to eat too much at parties or social gatherings, make sure you have a healthy meal before you leave your home. Similarly, if you know that you have a busy day ahead or will be traveling, bring your own food so that you are not tempted to reach for the easy, unhealthy options. Some of my favorite meals to prepare for being on the go are salads, GG pizzas, paleo bagels or Raw Rev Bars.