I was at a friend’s birthday dinner recently and as I was enjoying my risotto… and my cider… and the pizzas were being passed around the table, followed by the obligatory cake (sadly I couldn’t indulge in those too because – gluten!), it occurred to me how easy it is to overindulge in these social situations.
And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, the ambience. And yes, OK, the wine. It’s way too easy (and common) to indulge on those occasions.
And there’s nothing wrong with that – life is for living and if you can’t have pizza and cake occasionally then honestly, what’s the point?
But it doesn’t always stop there. Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.
And that’s where, if we’re trying to lose fat – or even maintain a healthy weight – things can come a little unstuck.
Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.
(Health hack: 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) and dive into the food.
But 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 your meal, leaving less room for the feast, but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
I’m sure you’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?
This can 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 (don’t worry if you find this tough I’m definitely a work in progress here too!).
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 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 not only are they full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and health-promoting phytochemicals, but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fibre and water.
Fibre 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.
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