I love food. I really do. What I hate though is that awful feeling I get when I eat too much, and lately that has been happening too often. Being petite does not exclude me from the uncomfortable side effects of overeating. Overeating can most certainly lead to weight gain or even obesity, but it can also lead to feeling sluggish, keep you from feeling motivated to be active, and even cause depression. I always feel terrible when I eat too much, and that just ruins the whole eating experience for me, which is supposed to be so enjoyable. Overeating is disrespecting your body and your food. When you eat too much your body is consuming more food than it needs to create energy and it ends up being turned into fat. Plus, you are eating food that could be saved for a time when you are actually hungry. So stop overeating and start appreciating your body!
1. Stop Eating in Front of the Television and Focus on What You Are Eating
Eating while watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet is a recipe for disaster and is a total death-trap. It is almost a guarantee that you will overeat. Instead, make mealtime family time, or a quiet time to reflect on yourself. Eat at the kitchen table. Turn on some nice soft background music if you need some noise. Take this opportunity to bond with the ones you love. Being at the table will also help you to focus on how much you are eating. Now I understand family traditions and perhaps Saturday night is dinner and a movie night. To reduce the risk that you will overeat, put what you will eat on your plate and then put the rest away in the fridge or leave it on the stove. Do not bring the whole pasta pot over to the TV or you will keep eating until the whole thing is gone, even if you are full. You are focusing on your movie and not on your eating. I know, because I am a victim of the I-must-be-eating-while-watching-TV disease. Do not associate watching TV with eating. By forcing yourself to get up off the couch and leave the room to get another helping, you are less likely to gorge yourself.
2. Slow Down
I know the food is tasty, trust me, I know! Sometimes though you eat so fast that you lose your chance to really taste your food and appreciate the glorious flavors that are entering your mouth. Plus, it takes about twenty minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full and in twenty minutes you can eat a lot! Slowing down your eating gives your stomach the chance to let you know that it’s full before you eat too much. It also gives you the chance to really appreciate the hard work that went into making this delicious meal.
3. Chew Your Food
This tip goes along with slowing down your eating. When you chew your food more, you will automatically slow down your eating, and you already know from tip number three why slowing down is so good. Chewing your food more also gets you more nutrients from what you are eating. And of course it gives you the chance to really taste your food, you didn’t do all that cooking (or waiting if you’re at a restaurant) just to scarf it down, appreciate that flavor! I’d say shoot for fifteen chews per bite.
4. Eating When You're Bored is Not Satisfying
Eating because you don’t know what else to do in that moment is going to lead to random, continuous snacking and things you wouldn’t normally eat going into your mouth. First of all, try to plan out what you are going to eat for the day and figure when you want to eat them. This will help keep you from picking up that candy bar, when you know that there is yummy quinoa coming soon for lunch. Secondly, there may be moments when you think you really are hungry. In those moments, drink a glass of water or juice first. Wait ten minutes and get yourself into some other activity such as taking a short walk. Chances are you won’t be “hungry” anymore. If you really are hungry though, grab a piece of fruit. Great light snacks include fruit, veggies, nuts (I love almonds!), and seeds. These will all fill you up and give you energy without causing you to overeat. Again, grab a handful of nuts and put the bag away, do not grab the whole bag, you might just eat all the almonds.
5. Don’t Buy Foods That Will Cause You to Overeat
You know those addictive chocolate-covered pretzels that you always can’t help but to eat the entire bag of in one go? Don’t buy them! This is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself from overeating. Only buy foods that are healthy snacking friendly, like kale chips, in case you have a moment of weakness (don’t stress, we all do). Making your own healthy snacks from scratch (chia seed pudding anyone?) will also give you a better appreciation for your food. You will know exactly what is going into your body, and will probably feel a lot better about your food choices.
6. Listen to Your Body and Respect Your Future Self
Eat foods that make your whole body feel good, not just your taste budding. The taste of something only lasts until you swallow, but your entire body feels the affects of your food choices for a long time. If you feel sluggish after eating something, don’t eat it again. Keeping a food journal of what you eat can help you figure out what you should and shouldn’t eat. Don’t force your body to ingest things that don’t agree with it. Make sure that when you decide to eat, that you are actually hunger or you haven’t eaten anything in a while. Don’t force your body to eat if it isn’t asking for fuel or in need of any. Also remember that what you eat today affects your body tomorrow. Today you might think cookies and ice cream make a good snack, but your future self will definitely regret the decision. Think about how you want your body to look and feel in twenty years and base your eating decisions on that. Love your body and respect it by fueling it with good foods. Every person’s body is different. Listen to yours and it will tell you what it needs.
7. Thank Yourself, Your Body, and Those Around You
Before each meal, my boyfriend and I have a ritual where we thank the world around us. It allows us to take a step back for a moment and reflect. It gives me a greater appreciation and respect for my food and my body, and I honestly think my food tastes better when I tell it I love it before I start eating. I thank the people I’m with, myself, my food, and the world around me. I thank my boyfriend for making the food with me and I thank the food for nourishing me. It is so quick and simply, but it has such a large affect on me and my body. It is totally worth it. Plus it definitely strengths the bond I have with my boyfriend and everyone that I share a meal with.