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I love food. I love it so much I often don’t pay attention to when I actually become full. I eat until I feel sick, or bloated, or until my plate is literally licked clean.
It’s a problem. Especially since it’s not always just that the food is delicious. Sometimes it’s the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.
It is way too easy (and common) to overindulge. On holidays we can explain it away because, well, it’s a holiday darn it! And aren’t we supposed to have two (or three) slices of pie and at least two plates of dinner (plus all those snacks)? And what about parties? Or Fat Tuesday? Or buffets? Those times when the literal abundance of food is not only real but celebrated.
The problem is that the overindulgence rarely stops there when you have a history of binge eating. Because for us, every day is an “occasion.” We overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time. Sound familiar?
This is a problem that I’ve had for awhile (obviously), and I’m working through it. Most days overeating isn’t even something I think about. It’s gotten better since I’ve gotten strict by following Whole 30 (If you’re interested, the Healthy Habits Facebook Group is walking through it together, and we’d love to have you!) and going even deeper by following the Autoimmune Protocol.
As I’m being more mindful (and as entire food groups are eliminated from my diet), I’m finding that I have less and less opportunity to truly overeat. But there are three things that have been helping me more than the dietary changes.
Start With Water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazing, delicious food it’s way too easy to fill an entire plate (or even sample a few bites without one)… But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feelings of thirst and hunger? Your body may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.
Studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss. You’re welcome.
Not only will the water you drink before you sit down to eat begin to fill up your stomach, but drinking water literally leaves less room for food. And drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
And drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism. Now that’s a killer bonus!
If you don’t like the taste of water, you can get around that and I don’t mean by drinking soda or juice.
Flavored Water Rocks
No, I’m not talking about the fake flavored stuff you can buy at Target. If you need your water to be more appealing, here are five delicious (and gorgeous) fruit combinations that can make your water more appealing (and easier to drink):
- Slices of lemon & ginger
- Slices of strawberries & orange
- Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
- Chopped pineapple & mango
- Blueberries & raspberries
Plus they’re really pretty. You’ll probably want to make sure you keep extra fruit on hand in case someone else wants “fancy” water as my boys call it.
Pro Tip: You can buy cans of freeze dried fruit and throw those into your cup. They’re already washed and cut, and they’ll help flavor your water faster than fresh fruit would.
I know you’ve heard of mindfulness, but have you applied that to your eating habits?
Mindful eating can help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of improving your digestion.
Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment, being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.
Be mindful when you eat by focusing on taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste, and texture. Breathe.
This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes a full 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Pro Tip: Eat at a table (without screens around-that means no phone!), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Greens at Every Meal (Even Breakfast)
I get it. You want the main course. You’ve been dreaming about the creamy sauceYou may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.
But don’t make that your focus. Load your plate with greens, toss some spinach or kale into your eggs, and experiment with new veggies like kohlrabi.
Vegetables, especially greens, are a great way to bulk out your meal. They’re full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals and they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.
Fiber and water are known to help make you feel fuller faster. They’re what’s called “satiating.”
These secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal, so make them a focal point. Look at your plate and make sure that you have a good amount of green goodness there.
As you work on eating less, remember to give yourself a bit of grace on this journey as you’re learning how to deal with different situations. For some, that will mean acknowledging that you are overeating in the first place, and for others, it will mean continuing to work toward healthier habits.