This topic of over eating has been on my mind for awhile.
Why is it that holidays, family gatherings or special events are usually accompanied by overeating? And it's not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.
But it doesn't always stop there.
Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.
Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot. There were 5 of us kids in a 6 year window. Yes, my poor mother had 5 little girls running around all under the age of 6!
My parents struggled financially to support our large family, so as a result we didn’t have a lot of the things I noticed other families had.
Eating out was a rare occasion and any special “treats” that were brought into the home were eaten almost immediately, because if you waited, you would miss out and there would be none left.
I always thought it was a special occasion when we got to eat something like McDonald’s or anything that wasn’t grown in our own backyard. Although now, looking back, I am so grateful that my childhood diet consisted of peas and carrots from the garden, fresh eggs from our hens, and of course my grandmothers fried green tomatoes.
When I got older and eventually moved in with my husband, I noticed my upbringing had brought with me a plethora of habits I had thought were “normal”. It never occurred to me that other people, who were raised in a home without this “scarcity mindset” were able to leave favorite sweets and treats in the pantry or freezer without even having a desire to eat them. I, on the other hand feel like I had to eat EVERYTHING... whether I am full or not.
This feeling of “not having enough” was ingrained in me, and always silently lingering. Even though I knew (now that I was independent of my family physically and financially) I could quite literally eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, this habit still lingered. Rather than paying attention to my body's natural hunger cues, I would over eat.
So, here are my three tips to avoid overeating at meals, whether you are at a special birthday party, wedding or it’s just Wednesday night.
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) 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.
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.
But don't start there.
(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”.
And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.
Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Infused Water Ideas:
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:
● Slices of lemon & ginger
● Slices of strawberries & orange
● Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
● Chopped pineapple & mango
● Kiwi & Blackberries
● Blueberries, cucumber & mint
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.
Have a wonderful week!
With love & health,