Have you ever noticed how much our lives revolve around food?
I mean sure, we need food to sustain life but if you take a moment to stop and observe, you will see that food is prevalent at every social gathering or work place.
Skipped breakfast? Don’t worry, someone brought donuts to the office?
Want to get together? Sure. Let’s grab lunch, dinner, coffee.
We don’t just have friends over. We have friends over and put out a huge spread.
We don’t just go to work and eat our homemade lunch. We have work potlucks every Friday.
I think you get the point.
It’s like we can’t escape food. It’s literally everywhere we go.
And it's not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the environment, and the ambiance.
It is way too easy (and common) to indulge these days.
But it doesn't always stop there.
Sometimes we overeat on holidays. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.
The good news is that there are ways to stop overeating. I mean while I love food, I don’t love how I feel when I overeat.
Puffer fish anyone???
Here are my 3 easy to implement tips to avoid overeating at meals.
(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)
Tip #1: Start with some water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands...yeah I see you) and dive into the food.
But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.
Some 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 (...just sayin').
Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast, but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
You've heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?
This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping 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.
Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring 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 about 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. Set a timer if you need to. This is a trick I often use with my clients and they are shocked how long 20 minutes actually takes.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Tip #3: Start with the salad
You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish...err...gelato.
But don't start there. Or do...no judgment here.
(Don't worry, you can have some...just after you've eaten your salad).
Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.
Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They're “satiating”.
Where have I heard that before???
And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.
See, that wasn’t so difficult right?
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
And speaking of lemon. Check out these ideas to make your water pop.
If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:
Pro-Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.
Want more pro-tips? Come hang with us.
I am a wife, mom, grandma & former professional “diet and exercise hopper" who understands the challenges of being 40lb overweight after having children & the damage repeated sense of failure can cause to your confidence and self-esteem.