4 Realistic Tips to Stop Overeating
If you struggle with eating too much, you’re not alone. If you have a beast living inside you that never feels full, and tells you that the food you’re eating is never enough, we’ve got good news. There are not the same old tired tips and ‘push yourself back from table’ approach. The tips we’ve got in store for you are realistic, and allow you to redirect your mind away from feeding and into fullness.
If you need to eat to the feeling of fullness, and find that it takes quite a lot of food to get there, then you are one of about 2/3 of Americans who might need some help to stop overeating. Obesity and overweight are a risk factor for many complex health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers.
Worse than that, many people who are obese often face social discrimination, professional discrimination, have limited mobility, and, not surprisingly, increased rates of depression. This makes learning how to stop overeating of paramount importance, for physical, social, and emotional health.
Reasons Why We Overeat and The Realistic Fix
Reason 1: Convenience
Many individuals consume unhealthy foods because they are convenient, readily accessible, and usually filled with sugar, salt, fat, and tasty chemicals like monosodium glutamate (MSG).
The realistic fix: Make unhealthy foods ‘inconvenient’. Place healthy foods in the easy-to-reach areas of your fridge and cupboard. Place unhealthy foods like cookies, chips or crackers on the highest, most distant shelf, and ice cream in a freezer in the garage or basement. Even better – don’t have these unhealthy foods in the house at all.
Reason 2: What You See is What You Get
Visual cues often give us an indicator of how much we’ve eaten. Bottomless bowl research shows that if you refill a bowl of soup from the bottom while someone is eating from that bowl, the lack of a visual cue as to how much soup was eaten can result in an average consumption of 73% more soup when compared to a group with a normal bowl.
The realistic fix: Leaving food behind on your plate to eat less can feel terrible, especially if you grew up a part of the ‘clean plate club’. Trick your eyes by playing a very useful optical illusion. When you place your food on a smaller plate, or serve your beverage in a smaller glass, your eyes will automatically be tricked, and over time will be re-trained to see the proper portion of foods. Try using an 8.5” or 9” plate size, and use 8oz coffee cups to serve your beverages. Lick that smaller plate clean if you like – and don’t leave any behind!
Reason 3: A Little Here a Little There – Snacking Adds Up
According to NHANES survey data, about 40 years ago, in the late 1970’s Americans used to consume an average of 3.8 snacks and meals each day. Now, the single largest contribution to our nationwide increase in calories since then is a 29% increase in the number of snacks and meals per day – which is now up to 4.9 on average per day, making up an average of 2,375 calories, or 30% more than 40 years ago.
The realistic fix: To stop overeating with too many calories, try ensuring you have low-cal snacks around. Eating 5-6 small meals each day is widely recognized as a good way to lose weight, but your calorie tally can’t go too high as a result. Snack on fresh fruit or carrot sticks, or celery with low fat cream cheese to help keep those counts low.
Reason 4: Volumetrics
Your stomach expands with food volume, and releases hormones that tell your brain you are physically full. When you consume foods that a calorie-dense and not full of volume, say for example peanut butter or salad dressing, these do not stretch your stomach, and it can take an average of 22 minutes for your brain to perceive that you have eaten these foods.
The realistic fix: High-volume, but lower-calorie foods can help stretch your stomach, and make you feel fuller. Salad greens, cabbage, zucchini, squash, broccoli, kale, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, fresh berries, papaya, avocado, apples, celery, oranges, pear, and pineapple are all examples of fresh, voluminous foods that are low in calories, but full of volume. Consuming these foods first, before the rest of your meal, can help stretch your stomach and register that you are full.