Do You Tend to Overeat?

You know the feeling - you’ve just finished eating a large meal and you feel stuffed, sluggish, and heavy. Looking back, you probably should not have eaten those last few bites or taken that second helping. Sometimes, it can be easy to overeat, but did you know that it can lead to digestive problems, type 2 diabetes, and obesity?1 Luckily, a few simple steps can help you avoid overeating... and all the negative consequences that come with it.  

Five tips to help you avoid the urge to overeat:  

1. Limit Mealtime Distractions 

Do you live in a fast-paced world? If so, your mealtimes may also reflect this. Many of us consume meals while watching television or browsing the internet, but these actions can lead us to miss cues that our body is full – and continue eating past the point that we should. One study evaluated the attentiveness to eating and its influence on food intake and found a strong link between the two.2 Researchers concluded that attentive-eating principles may be a “novel approach to aiding weight loss and maintenance.” Next time you sit down for a meal, be sure to switch off the television and phone and simply focus on eating the food in front of you, with a feeling of delightfulness and enjoyment.   

2. Practice Eating Slowly 

In 2015, researchers studied the impact of the rate of food consumption on feeling full following a meal.3 They found that adults who ate the same quantity of soup at different rates had drastic differences in feelings of satisfaction following the meal. The individuals who ate slower were the ones who felt more satisfied. It can be tempting to eat meals quickly in order to move on to another activity – resist the temptation! Instead, practice eating more slowly to help your body recognize the cues of feeling full and to stop you from overeating.  

3. Portion Sizing - Ok, It’s Not So Bad! 

One of the simplest measures you can use to avoid overeating is to simply portion out your food prior to eating the meal, rather than eating directly out of a large container. Before eating, take a look at the labels on your favorite food ... are you surprised by what the serving size is? The reality is that, even if you are eating healthy foods, too much of a good thing can still be bad for you. Focus on eating healthy portion sizes by placing servings on plates rather than in a large dish, dividing entrees between two people, or measuring out quantities prior to cooking. You might be surprised at how effective this step can be! 

4. Get into the Habit of Eating at Regular Time Periods 

Have you noticed that when you become too hungry, you tend to overeat because you are so ravenous?4 This can lead to eating too quickly and eating unhealthy foods simply because they are convenient and quick. Instead, plan ahead to have a small snack in between meals in order to keep yourself satisfied so you can avoid extreme hunger. Eating a healthy snack such as fruit, nuts, seeds, or vegetables such as carrots can help tide you over until your next meal. You may find that you eat less because you are not as hungry.  

5. A Healthy Diet Every Day  

Your diet influences every part of your life, from your health to your sleep to your capacity for athletic activity, so it’s no surprise that maintaining a healthy diet every day is one of the most crucial steps you can take to avoid overeating. A healthy diet, full of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and plant-based proteins, will be packed with plenty of fiber, protein, and nutrients, to keep you satisfied longer. In addition, consuming healthy snacks such as nuts and seeds in between meals can help stave off hunger and keep your stomach full.  

Resources

  1. “How to Stop Overeating: Effective Strategies for Controlling Appetite.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325258. 
  2. Robinson, Eric, et al. “Eating Attentively: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Food Intake Memory and Awareness on Eating.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American Society for Nutrition, Apr. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607652/. 
  3. Ferriday, Danielle, et al. “Effects of Eating Rate on Satiety: A Role for Episodic Memory?” Physiology & Behavior, Elsevier, 16 July 2015, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031938415300147. 
  4. Chen, Jieyu, et al. “Associations between Breakfast Eating Habits and Health-Promoting Lifestyle, Suboptimal Health Status in Southern China: a Population Based, Cross Sectional Study.” Journal of Translational Medicine, BioMed Central, 11 Dec. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4269950/.