13 Ways to Avoid Overeating (Eat Less, Lose Weight!)
Let’s talk about strategies to avoid overeating or consuming too much food. This is a problem many people frequently encounter and it can be helpful to have some coping strategies.
One of the primary reasons, if not the main goal of trying to eat less is to lose weight and achieve a healthy physique. Although I’m not going to talk about it in this video, exercise is equally important to managing your diet when it comes to achieving those goals.
The following is a list of strategies you may find helpful. Some may be more pertinent to you than others. My advice is to pick a couple and start using them. When those concepts become routine, add another one or two. Eventually most of this can become habit and you’ll be eating less without having to go out of your way.
1. Have a glass of water before you start eating. This is an important strategy that often goes overlooked. Having a glass of water right before a meal is going to partially fill your stomach. This can help trick your stomach into feeling partially full and will help you eat less food. Many folks don’t drink enough water per day as it is, so you can actually kill two birds with one stone here.
2. Eat in the kitchen and not in front of the Television. This has to do with focus. If you’re watching TV, you’re going to be distracted from your meal. This can lead to you ignoring the sensation of being full and subsequently setting you up to eat more.
3. Chew your food. This has to do with slowing down the rate at which you are eating. We’ve all been in a situation where we are so famished we have to scarf down our plate or our sandwich. I understand those situations exist, but they are not the norm. In most cases, you can slow down, chew your food, and enjoy it. As a bonus, it will also aids in digestion and absorption of food in your gut.
4. Learn to stop eating before you are full. If you listen to your body, you’ll know when it’s time to stop even before you feel stuffed. You probably have had plenty of experiences where you had a few bites left or it tasted so good you just powered through your bodies signals. Listen to those signals that tell you to stop. Embrace them, don’t ignore them.
5. Strategize snacking. The idea here is to actually spoil your appetite a little bit. Try eating a small, healthy snack a few hours before your meal. This should help blunt your appetite somewhat and reduce your hunger. Don’t snack right before dinner, because that can defeat the purpose, but a few hours is a reasonable amount of time.
6. Don’t buy foods you know will cause you to overeat. This one sounds obvious, but it’s hard for people. If you’re having a sandwich and chips, don’t buy the big multi-serving size of chips if you know you’re going to eat the whole thing at lunch. Don’t get the extra large serving or portion of something you know you can’t help but finish. Don’t buy the oreos or ice cream you know you can’t avoid.
7. Get better sleep and more of it. Poor sleep has been associated with metabolic dysregulation. Being sleep deprived is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. It can screw up the balance between leptin, which tells you that you’re full, and ghrelin, the hormone that tells you you are hungry. So make sure you’re getting at 7-9 hours of consistent sleep each night and you will be in a better position to control your diet and eat less.
8. Work on other stressors in your life. Like sleep, stress is associated with metabolic dysregulation. In a nutshell, when you’re stressed you release more cortisol. More cortisol leads to increased circulating blood sugar and can also slow down metabolism. There are a lot of other side effects of cortisol, so reducing stress is helpful for your overall wellbeing, not just managing dietary intake.
9. Be more selective regarding food choices. There’s a reason people say eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and whole grains. These foods are generally better for you. By contrast, processed foods, desserts, sugary treats, candy, soda and fast food are generally less healthy for you. One of the reasons there’s a difference is researchers believe some foods trigger the sensation of feeling full faster than others. Healthier foods will generally do this sooner.
10. Select smaller portions. This is true at home and at restaurants. However, when eating out, you’ll almost always get more food than you require for that meal. Consider splitting an entree or ordering just an appetizer. Alternatively, make an effort to eat half your meal and take the rest home.
11. Think twice about desserts. My personal advice is to skip them entirely. Instead of dessert, have another serving of vegetables. However, if you insist, make sure you know the calorie count of your dessert and keep it low. If you get something bigger or with more calories, share it with someone else.
12. Slow down. Eating too fast can outpace the ability of your body to release leptin, which is that hormone that makes you feel full. Obviously, this is bad because you’ll end up eating more food than you needed because your stomach has not told your brain it’s full yet. So slow down and you’ll almost certainly eat less food.
13. Eat because you are hungry. It’s important to eat when you need sustenance, but it’s unhealthy to eat because you're bored, anxious, angry or depressed. Do not soothe your negative feelings by eating food. Deal with them in other, healthier ways.