It can be hard not to overeat. Be it eating when we're not hungry or even eating that third helping we didn’t need. Most of us are guilty of this. You may not be aware of it, but you have a relationship with food. We all do! And as with all relationships, there are positives and negatives.
One of the main reasons we eat when we're not hungry is because we sometimes use food to shield ourselves from uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes one might eat to get relief from boredom, depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress, and other moods.
Often, the foods we reach for first, in times of stress are "comfort foods”. If we don't reach for comfort foods, we tend to reach for alcohol, sweets, and savoury foods that tend to be high in fats, sugar, and calories.
The following 5 strategies can assist in overcoming over-eating:
1. ADD VINEGAR AND CINNAMON TO MEALS TO CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR
Looking to add some flavour to your food and non-caloric drinks? Forget the sugar; there are plenty of spices and flavours that will make your food both tastier and healthier.
Vinegar, which has been shown to lower the glycemic index (which means you metabolise the food more slowly), adds acidic flavour to salad dressings, sauces and roasted veggies without large amounts of calories.
For sweet-smelling warmth, add cinnamon to everything from coffee and smoothies, to even a bean chilli. Like vinegar, cinnamon slows the rate at which food transits from your stomach to your intestine — this keeps you fuller for longer, and helps prevent the post-meal slump.
2. EAT WHEN YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY
When you get really hungry, you overeat. I know! Ground-breaking stuff. Overeating causes one to feel full, but then causes your insulin levels to spike, you then crash and feel tired and then hunger kicks in again. Its a bit of a vicious cycle! Instead of trying to resist hunger, beat it to the punch.
If you eat when you’re either not hungry, or only slightly hungry, you’ll eat less and tend to eat slower. Eating less throughout the day is great, but having more energy is certainly a great bonus, too.
3. DRINK WATER
In addition to tiredness and brain fog, mild dehydration can cause a sensation that’s easily mistaken for hunger. On the other hand, liquid calories, such as juices and sodas, don’t fill you up and their rapid digestion causes insulin spikes. Skip sweetened drinks and stick with sparkling or still water, instead.
Aim to drink at least three-quarters of a gallon of water a day. Also, be sure to drink a glass about 20 minutes before each meal to take the edge of your appetite.
4. EAT SLOWLY
When you swallow food, there’s a sizable delay before you feel any satiation from it. This delay is usually between 10–30 minutes. Because of this delay, we tend to eat more food than we really need. And the faster we eat, the more we tend to consume, particularly later on in a meal. The solution: Chew each bite 10 times. Following this simple rule will cause you to eat more slowly, allowing your mind to catch up to your stomach. You’ll also enjoy your food more when you take the time to savor it.
5. AVOID THE TV DURING MEALS
Data shows that watching four hours of television a day, for example, tends to be a consistent behavioural pattern of an obese individual.
And while we're watching TV, or surfing away on our computers, we tend to not pay attention to what or how much we are eating. Researchers who study eating behavior call this "food inattentiveness."
When we eat in front of the television, we aren't paying attention to what we are eating. Research shows that people who eat in front of the TV report feeling like they haven't eaten at all. It appears that the food eaten doesn't register all that well when we are distracted. Solution: Simply avoid eating while there are distractions ie. tv, phones, computers. Try get into the habit of sitting at a table and focusing on what you're eating and the feeling of fullness.
We’re only human. There is no need to beat yourself up about over-eating. When you start to develop a stronger mind-body awareness and love for yourself, that’s when better food choices will be made.
Secondly, over time you will begin to use food to nourish your body rather than to fill certain emotional gaps. Lastly, when you develop a stronger connection with your body - you can learn to tune into your signals of fullness and even begin to respect those signals.