Individuals who overeat are engaging in a destructive behavior that can jeopardize their health over time. Many people struggle with changing their eating habits and putting an end to overeating. Although stopping overeating can be challenging, it is certainly not impossible. There are some simple steps that you can follow to help you change your behavior and stop overeating once and for all.
1. Steer clear of fad diets that promise rapid weight loss in a short period of time. In general, losing weight too quickly is not safe. Although it is possible to lose up to 10 pounds per week for the first two weeks of dieting, this is usually a result of water loss and not a true indication of weight loss. The recommended amount of weight to safely lose is 1 to 2 pounds per week.
2. Refrain from emotional eating. If you find that you are eating food when you are bored, depressed, lonely, angry or after a hard day at work, you are eating for the wrong reasons. Many people fall into the habit of relying on food to help them overcome negative emotions. To break this habit, you must first make the connection between the behavior and the overeating.
- Avoid the impulse to use food as a source of comfort. When you find yourself reaching for food to counteract the effects of a bad day, make a conscious effort to divert yourself to another activity rather than eating.
- Pay attention to what is going on during your life when you are overindulging in food. Did you have a particularly stressful day? Did you have an argument with a loved one? Are you just feeling blah?
3. Be aware of what your food triggers are. By understanding what your triggers are, you can avoid those situations that might cause temptations and make it difficult for you to stay on track. For example; if going to the movies automatically prompts you to reach for a pack of candy and a large soft drink, skip the theatre and rent a movie to watch at home with a bowl of healthy trail mix and some sparkling water instead.
4. Refrain from using food as a reward. Many times, people make the mistake of rewarding themselves with an indulgent treat for sticking to a healthy eating plan for a designated amount of time. Using foods as a reward for eating healthy is counterproductive to the task at hand. Instead, allow yourself to indulge in special treats every so often for no reason at all. This will help you keep healthy eating in perspective and recognize indulgences as just that.
5. Visualize certain objects to help you remember what a portion size is.
- View a deck of playing cards as the one serving size (3 ounces) of meat.
- Picture one serving of nuts, peanut butter or cheese as the size of a golf ball.
- Picture one serving of oils and fats as the size of a game die.
- Envision a tennis ball as one serving of fruits and vegetables.
- Envision a computer mouse when trying to remember the serving size of cooked grains or potatoes.
6. Make an effort to chew your food more before swallowing. This forces you to slow down the pace at which you are eating. Chewing more also has the added benefits of providing more nutrients and allowing you to really savor the flavors of your meal.
7. Take the time to really appreciate your food. Savor every bite and take the time to enjoy the flavors present in your meal.
8. Stop eating when you feel full. Most people just instinctively eat what is in front of them, regardless of whether or not they are still hungry.
- Remember that it takes close to 20 minutes for the stomach to send the signal to the brain that it is full, so eating slowly can help prevent overeating.
- Learn to pay attention to your hunger signals and stop eating when you start to feel satisfied.
9. Eat only when you are hungry. If you are eating out of habit and not because of hunger, you are feeding your habits rather than feeding your body what it needs.
10. Eat more fiber. Fiber can help you feel full faster and for longer. Because the body processes a fiber-rich meal more slowly, it may help you stay satisfied long after eating. Fiber-packed foods are also higher in volume, which means they can fill you up so you eat fewer calories.
- One review published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association linked a high intake of cereal fiber with lower body mass index and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
11. Refrain from lingering at your table too long because you are distracted by the environment you are in. If you do decide to stay, be sure to remove the food so that you are not tempted to keep picking.
12. Tune into your surroundings. Pay attention to what is going on around you and if you find that you are distracted by bright colors or lights, loud noises, music or lots of people, you will have to pay closer attention to your eating habits to prevent yourself from overeating. Avoid getting so caught up in what’s going on around you that you forget to put down the fork.
13. Aim to fill half of your plate with healthy vegetables. If you find you are still hungry after eating and you must have seconds, skip the other foods and have only more veggies.
14. Refrain from tasting food while you cook and prepare it. A little bite here and there can add up to quite a bit of food before you know it.
15. Remove serving bowls from the table when eating. Place the food on your plate and walk away from the serving bowls. This will help you resist the temptation to scoop additional helpings onto your plate.
16. Use medium sized plates when eating at home. If your plate is too small you are more likely to go back for seconds, which can throw off healthy portion sizes. If your plate is too large, you’re more likely to pile it full of foods and overeat.
17. Speak to the server about the portion size before you order. If it is a large meal that could feed two people, ask them to bring half of the meal to you and put the other half in a to-go container.
18. Ask your server to make healthy substitutions to your meal.
- Ask them to bring you a salad rather than an appetizer if your meal includes one. Be sure to remind them to bring the dressing on the side.
- Have them hold the bread.
- Ask to have your meal steamed or stir-fried rather than fried in fat.
19. Find a local support group in your area. Speak with your health care provider and ask him to recommend a local support program that you can join.
20. Don’t stop eating. Take it day by day.
21. Learn to recognize the underlying reasons for why you are overeating can help you develop a plan to effectively counteract them.
- Change the way you view food and make healthy changes to your eating habits.