We all do it. Sometimes the amazing aroma and delicious flavour gets the best of us. Especially if we're a bit on the hungry (or hangry) side.
I'm talking about overeating at meals.
This 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 we may still overeat. In this post I'm going to give you four solid tips for preventing that from happening. Seriously! If you can make these four things a regular habit and part of your daily routine you've got one up on the overeating cravings.
(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)
Tip #1: Start with some water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.
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 feast.
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').
Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
You've heard of mindfulness 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 the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.
Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.
So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), use a smaller plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Tip #3: Start with the salad
You may be yearning 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).
Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret weapons that make you feel full: fibre and water.
And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.
Tip #4: Ditch the idea that you need to polish the plate.
Many of us grow up with the belief that we must eat everything on our plate and not waste anything.
Our parents would say things like "no dessert until you eat ALL of your dinner" or "don't waste food because there are starving kids out there who would love to eat that".
Letting go of this belief was one of the single most effective things that helped me lose a lot of weight. All of the food that we eat after we are full, just because it's on the plate, adds up to a lot of extra calories over time.
Tune in to your body and practice stopping when you are full. Avoid wastage by putting the food in a container in the fridge for later.
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, start with your salad and let go of the belief that have to clean the plate. These tips will help you avoid overeating at meals, and make a big difference to your waistline if you can make them a daily habit.