No matter how committed you are to clean eating and portion control, everyone slips up sometimes. We give in to our cravings or our boredom, and we end up feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and frustrated.
We all have different triggers for overeating…
Maybe you can’t help ordering a massive burger, a side of fries, and a milkshake every time you go out to dinner—even though you know you’ll feel sick afterwards.
Maybe you sit down with a bag of chips to watch a movie, and, next thing you know, the bag is empty (and so is the pint of ice cream you dug out of the freezer).
Maybe you decide to take a break at work, and you end up eating cookies from the break room, a granola bar out of your purse, and a soda from the vending machine.
When it comes to overeating, the most important thing is to know your own habits, triggers, and weaknesses. That way, you can be prepared for situations where you’re likely to overindulge.
And with a few extra tricks up your sleeve, you can conquer mindless overeating and make smarter, healthier choices this season.
TRACK YOUR SNACKS
The latest stats show that 62 percent of Americans say they snack because of cravings, 25 percent blame boredom, and another 16 percent chalk it up to stress. The numbers speak for themselves—most of our snacking has nothing to do with legitimate hunger.
Start tracking your snacking habits carefully, in a small notebook or on the notes app on your phone. Pay attention to the real reason behind your snack breaks, and start making more intentional eating choices in between meals. If you’re truly hungry, munch on a handful of almonds...and, if you’re just bored or stressed, take a short walk, sip a cup of tea, or listen to some music instead.
WAIT FOR SECONDS
If your first instinct at the end of a meal is to reach across the table for a second serving, take a moment to slow down. Often, right after your first portion, your body hasn’t had time yet to send your brain cues of satiation. And, if you rush to eat another serving, you might scrape your plate clean by the time you realize you’re more than full.
Before serving up seconds, wait for at least ten minutes, to give your body time to digest and react. Most of the time, your hunger will dissipate and you’ll be comfortably content.
USE SMALLER DISHES
This simple trick is an easy way to reset your brain and get used to smaller portion sizes. Too often, we eat our meals on autopilot...eating large portions without even realizing it!
Put away your giant plates and bowls, and use smaller dishes. This way, you’ll adjust to eating more moderate amounts with no effort at all. And remember: you can always dish up a second serving if you’re still hungry after the first.
SET A CUT-OFF TIME
Late-night snacking is an all-too-easy way to inhale unnecessary calories and derail your healthy eating goals. Even if you’re not actually hungry, your cravings might lead you to browse the pantry or the freezer for salty, sugary, processed snacks.
Instead of mindlessly eating your way through the evening, set a realistic “cut-off” time for snacking each night. When the time comes, brush your teeth and keep the pantry closed.
REVIEW YOUR GOALS
Next time you’re craving a big bowl of ice cream, another bag of chips, or a fourth slice of pizza, step back for a moment and ask yourself two questions.
Am I really hungry?
Will this help me reach my health and fitness goals?
Checking in with yourself with these two questions will help you gain perspective, stay grounded, and get out of an "autopilot eating" mindset. And the answers to these two simple questions will help you make the right choice when you’re tempted to overeat.
FOCUS ON EATING
As unlikely as it may sound, focusing on eating might be the key to ending your binging habits. You see, most overeating stems from mindless binging. You finish the box of cookies while responding to emails. You finish your kid’s pizza while cleaning up dinner. You eat the entire tub of ice cream while watching football.
Cut out distractions and choose to eat more mindfully. For every meal (and even every snack), sit down at the table and enjoy every bite. You’ll feel more satisfied, and you’ll be much less likely to overeat.
With these tips, you’ll be able to stay on track with your health and fitness goals this holiday season—while still enjoying your favorite treats!