We all can relate to overeating. You know the struggle. You’re hungry and it’s dinner time. You make a great meal for the family and you stack your plate to your heart and eyes content. Half way through the plate you start feeling full but it’s so good so you continue. You help yourself to seconds and before you can help it, your sitting lethargic on the couch not wanting to move until it’s time to head to bed. Why do we push ourselves to this point? Since when has this become our routine?
I used to be severely addicted to overeating. I got used to eating so much food that I associated being “full” with eating until I was in pain. Because of this, I gained 60 pounds and lost all control of my eating habits. After being overweight for the first time in my life, I was sick of not fitting my clothes. I refused to buy jeans that were the proper size just because the number was embarrassing. That’s when I decided to take control and turn this around.
It can be overwhelming and intimidating to try and fix this habit. Just like any other habit over eating is addicting and seems impossible to achieve. But it is possible. Taking small steps toward your goal is the way to kick start your journey to healthier eating habits.
1. Portion Control
Overeating is easy to give into when you have a ton of food on your plate. Why tempt yourself with more food than you can eat? As a former starting varsity athlete, I knew a lot about nutrition and what food your body needs to be healthy. However, a full lifestyle turn around and meal prep was more than I was ready for. I started by managing my portions.
Holiday sugar cookies were my weakness and I still can’t keep them stocked in the house or a 24 pack will be gone in one night. So if you have that one food that is your addiction, it could be best to refrain from it while you are getting your habits under control. But you don’t have to completely eliminate all of your favorite foods. Start by making less food so there is less temptation to give into overeating.
A study conducted by professors at Cornell University stated, “For example, in a study conducted at a health and fitness camp, campers who were given larger bowls served and consumed 16% more cereal than those given smaller bowls. Despite the fact that those campers were eating more, their estimates of their cereal consumption were 7% lower than the estimates of the group eating from the smaller bowls. This suggests that not only could large dinnerware cause us to serve and eat more; it can do so without us noticing and trick us into believing we have eaten less.”
So it can help using smaller plates with the same portion so it visually helps you realize the portions you are consuming.
2. Pace Yourself
Scarfing down food is common in overeating and can often be called “binge eating”. While battling my own eating disorder, I would not eat all day to be able to eat all I wanted at night. This is how I justified eating so much because I would tell myself, “You haven’t eaten all day so you deserve these calories.” I am known, even still, for finishing my food first. I get hungry and think the faster I eat, the faster I get full but this isn’t the case.
Your body needs to be able to digest the food as you consume it. It takes your body approximately 20 minute from the time you start eating for your brain to send out signals of fullness. So if you are inhaling your food in less than 15 minutes, you’re body isn’t even given a chance to signal to you that you are full.
For me, it starts by chewing slower. I barely even chew my food when I am hungry. My girlfriend jokes that I don’t even taste it. Which sounds ridiculous but in actuality, she’s right! Once you slow down, you’d be amazed by how many more flavors you can taste by actually chewing your food. Keep in mind, that your food isn’t going anywhere!
3. Slowly Integrate Healthy Choices
We don’t always have to be eating junk and fast food. Slowly introducing healthier options can directly impact your calorie intake. For example, choosing grilled chicken over crispy chicken or drinking water over soda. Multiple healthy substitutions in combination with pacing yourself and portion control can positively impact your health without committing yourself to an intimidating life turnaround.
If you are up to the challenge of doing a 180 with your health then by all means, good for you! But not all of us are ready for such a drastic change so suddenly. Easier choices like bringing a water bottle to work and setting a goal to drink two of them a day, can effect your energy, brain function and boost your metabolism. I encourage you to make positive choices where you can.
Win The Battle Against Overeating
It is possible to take back control. You have to find the will power and be willing to make different choices. It’s important to know you are not alone. According to the Global Market Insite Study, four out of ten individuals have either personally experienced an eating disorder or know someone who has. For support to make healthier choices, talk with a close friend or family member and let them know what you are struggling with. That can be the best form of encouragement and maybe you can even encourage each other to make healthier choices together.
Your speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward. One step at a time. Believe in yourself that you can do anything you put your mind to.
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