Food is everywhere. It’s at the gas station, the shopping mall, on the reception desk at work and in the park. It’s how we celebrate birthdays, holidays and even social outings. It’s difficult to ever go hungry in our abundant society.
Given the prevalence of food, do you sometimes find yourself eating more than your belly can handle? Have you ever sat down and ate an entire gallon of ice cream? Have you gone back to the buffet line several times, knowing that it’s more than you should be eating? Avoiding overeating can be a huge challenge, but here are 10 ways to help keep you on track for a healthier regimen.
1. Where’s the beef? Most people continue to load up on carbs like rice, pasta, breads and other low-nutrient, higher-calorie foods when overeating. Instead, start your meal with a bit of protein. Eating protein with a meal can help you avoid high blood sugar spikes that may lead to consuming more calories. Lean proteins are best; aim for about 20 to 25 grams of protein per meal. Even a handful of almonds (about nine to 11) can help you curb your appetite. In a number of studies, people on a low-calorie diet who ate a handful of almonds 60 to 90 minutes before meals lost more weight than those who opted for other snacks. Plus, almonds are packed with energy-boosting vitamin B12 and fiber, and a touch of protein.
2. Filler up. Fiber-rich foods like vegetables and fruits can help you feel fuller faster without the guilt of high-calorie foods. If there’s one category of foods that you can afford to overindulge in, it’s this one. Fruits and veggies are made up of fiber and mainly water, so they will help your belly feel full without busting your diet. Fiber helps your body eliminate wastes and toxins, and absorb the good vitamins and minerals it needs to run more efficiently.
3. Bottoms up. Drinking more water can be as easy as pouring yourself a big glass or two before sitting down to a large meal where you might not be able to trust yourself to eat a smaller portion. Water has no calories, but cues the brain to help you feel fuller faster. Think of refilling that water glass between each course and focus on drinking every last drop. You’ll be well hydrated and eat less, too.
4. Walk before you sit. Sit down to eat that is. Taking a 10- to 30-minute walk just before eating can provide three benefits. First, you’ll have a different mindset by focusing on healthy living habits like walking and potentially bring on some endorphins to feel happier, which helps to reduce the likelihood of overeating. Secondly, many people have a drop in appetite after a light workout session. And lastly, you may be more in tune with your body to listen to brain cues about feeling full.
5. Picture this. Curbing your appetite could be as easy as signing into Pinterest. In a recent study, people who looked at pictures of food before eating were less apt to overeat those treats later in the day.
6. Yield! Dinner ahead! Slowing down your eating may be key to avoiding overeating. By simply chewing your food longer, taking breaks and consciously eating more slowly, your body’s signals for feeling full may be more apparent. Try listening to classical music, which typically has a slower beats-per-minute than pop or dance music. Your body mimics the rhythms around it. Or try eating outdoors near the rolling waves of the ocean.
7. Out of sight, out of mind. A simple task of clearing the cupboards or freezer of food items you’re more likely to overeat can be an easy step. If you’re prone to eating every last chip out of the bag after opening it, then don’t buy chips. Or wait to enjoy them at a special occasion.
8. Don’t go hungry! Never enter a potential overeating situation, like Thanksgiving or a football tailgate, without first eating a small protein-rich snack. By eating a low-calorie, high-nutrient snack that includes protein before an event may help you feel that fullness faster.
9. Eater be aware. As you find yourself heading into the living room to watch television and mindlessly snack on chips and salsa, stop and ask yourself, “Why am I eating this right now?” Mindless or emotional eating simply happens, but until you’re aware of doing it, you may find it impossible to stop it. If you’re truly hungry for a snack, choose something that will add to your health. If you’re feeling the “I deserve this because...” then be sure you’re tuned into your emotions to help avoid the fall out.
10. Hey, hot stuff! Lastly, there is research that shows that capsaicin—an active component in chili peppers—can help curb your appetite to help you avoid overeating. Eating hot chili peppers before a meal has been shown to help people eat less. Maybe it’s because your mouth is on fire!
Final thought: You can't control everything in your life, but you can control yourself and how you react to each situation. You are ultimately in control of you!