9 Tips To Stop Overeating
By Joanne Beccarelli
Overeating alone does not make you fat.
“What?! Overeating is exactly what makes me fat,” you might be thinking.
Actually, it is what you are overeating and why you are pulled to overeating that is making you struggle with your weight.
Here are my top 9 tips to stop overeating and better understand your food struggles.
1. Change over to a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Focus on vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, healthy fat from real foods (not added) and possibly some wild fish and organic meats. Eat plant-based, nutritionally dense foods whenever you feel the need (see How to Change To Plant-Based Eating).
When you cut out processed foods and move to eating whole foods, a few critical things begin to happen. Most importantly, your undernourished, but overfed body is flooded with nutrition, causing your body to stop pushing you to eat more, simply because you were not taking in the nutrition you needed in the first place.
Once you are nourished, your insatiable appetite will start to subside. When you get in the habit of eating this way, you begin supplying your body with what is it actually craving – balanced nutrition – and it becomes much easier to sustain your weight. And believe or not, your tastebuds change allowing you to crave HEALTHY foods!
2. Eliminate sugary foods, foods with added sugar and those that quickly turn to sugar.
Eliminate all foods with added sugar as well as foods that quickly convert to sugar such as refined flours and alcohol. Reading ingredient and nutrition labels is key to finding the hidden sugar. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons (88 grams) of ‘added sugar’ a day, which is WAY over the RDA levels recommended.
Sugar is one of the most addicting ingredients found in many foods today, without providing any nutritional value. It has been proven to be as addicting as cocaine, drawing those who eat it back to consuming more and more.
Getting sweet satisfaction from whole foods like fruits, is the best way to enjoy natural sugar, while also getting nutrients.
3. Start the day with a nutrient packed meal and eat before you are starving.
It is customary to talk about the importance of breakfast, but the primary issue is the importance of making your first meal of the day nutrient packed. Plus, it is critical to eat before your body begins to scream for energy in an effort to eliminate those pesky cravings for food that ultimately doesn’t support your body’s true needs.
Better nutrition means fewer cravings and you know what that means – you’re less likely to overeat! Having fuel early enough in the day to supply you with the energy you need is important. It’s not simply about consuming any source of calories in the AM, it’s about getting nutrition before your body says, “I’m depleted!”
4. Chew more, aiming for about 50 chews per mouthful of food.
Slow down, be in the moment and enjoy your food. Eating slowly and chewing more are both ways to aim for the same result – to synchronize the act of eating with the body and to increase your enjoyment of food!
Chewing more and targeting 50 chomps per mouthful of food is an age old macrobiotic practice that is about mindfulness and digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth with saliva, so chewing more supports better absorption of nutrients and greater satisfaction. It also allows the messages between your brain and stomach to become better aligned and provides more enjoyment from the flavors of the food as well as the act of eating.
5. Understand what is behind your triggers.
Once you understand what is behind your cravings, overeating can be tamed. Read Why Do You Crave Unhealthy Food? to understand the 3 types of triggers behind your cravings. Is it a habit, your body’s physiology or your emotions?
Once you know what type of trigger you have and what is behind it, solutions become easier to customize. It’s often not just, “I love Oreos, so I’ll try to avoid them.” It’s more about the possible physiological links (ex: sugar addiction, lack of proper nutrition), emotional links or habitual links. You need to break the code and understand WHY in order to avoid trigger foods and to stop overeating them.
6. Get a great night’s sleep.
Your mission is to get a great night’s sleep every night, not just on weekends! Even just a little loss of sleep disrupts your hormonal balance, leading to hunger.
Research studies directly tie sleep quality to the stress hormone, cortisol, which leads to overeating, cravings, weight gain and also to many diseases. Although our individual need for sleep varies, most adults feel their best when they achieve between 7-8 hours each night. We’re passionate about sleep – check it out here.
7. Balance your life and embrace activities that reduce stress.
Take a walk, work out, meditate, do yoga, be with people you love, play! Controlling stress is important all day long. Find activities that provide balance and give you the added benefit of connecting to the community.
Chronic stress and erratic cortisol levels are big drivers of hormonal imbalances and emotional overeating.
8. Modify your environment to “mindlessly” support healthier eating.
Change your eating environment to direct yourself to eat better and healthier. When you use smaller plates, reduce kitchen clutter, purge your pantry, keep cut vegetables in the fridge and a bowl of fruit on the counter, or even sit by a window at a restaurant, you will automatically begin to constrain overeating and develop healthier eating habits.
According to Brian Wansink, Ph.D., the John Dyson Professor of Marketing and the Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab (in simple terms, a behavioral psychologist who studies how and why we eat), our environment plays a major role in how we eat. His research over 20 years proves that, by managing your environment, you can mindlessly control your eating. Get more mindless non-eating ideas here or check out the book Slim by Design.
9. Interrupt yourself.
You know when you are about to overeat, so interrupt yourself! Pause, take a break and ask yourself the key questions about what is about to happen. Are you bored, sad, mad, tired, frustrated, … or are you actually hungry?
When you take one minute to get in tune with yourself rather than self medicating with food, then you can redirect and begin to figure out what you actually need. Pausing for just a moment to reflect might save you from reaching for food you don’t really need and to focus on what is missing that you are using food to replace. You will then get the chance to give yourself exactly what you actually need instead.
Whenever you feel like you can’t stop eating, ask yourself if one of these tips can help. Many times, emotions are behind overeating, but nutritional deficiencies are a very common factor too. Use the tools here and before you know it, you will break free from overeating and be on your way to thoroughly enjoying the food you eat – with no shame!
Office of Disease Prevention and Promotion
Slim by Design, by Brian Wansink, Ph.D.
Dr. Fuhrman, Nutritarian Diet
Joanne Beccarelli is a holistic health coach, juicing junkie, writer, soon to be cookbook author and recovered emotional eater. Inspired by many great voices in the health-thru-food revolution, Joanne found her way out of hiding in shame (losing almost 100 lbs in the process) and stepped away from the corporate world. She now dedicates every day to helping others who are overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed, find awareness, fulfilment and better health.
Joanne has a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell/T. Colin Campbell Foundation, and became a Certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is also a member of American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and the International Association of Health Coaches (IAHC).
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