Have you been here before? You gather with friends for a holiday dinner or to sample a new restaurant and suddenly you are confronted with SO MUCH delicious food that you end up taking WAY more than you should have. Afterwards, you feel stuffed, painfully stuffed, and often a wee bit (or very) guilty!
I know I’ve done this numerous times! Overeating on occasion is not going to hurt us too much but, unfortunately, we too often eat way too much. It’s easy, I get it – there are so many delicious recipes at our fingertips and now the fusion cuisine movement has enabled so many delightful tastes and textures to coexist in such wonderful dishes…yeah, sometimes you just can’t help it.
The bad thing about this ‘occasional’ overeating is that it starts to become a habit and we end up overeating ALL THE TIME! This definitely does harm – it stifles digestion in the long run, overburdens our livers and leads to weight issues. For some people, acne, constipation, fatigue and brain fog can develop. Ugh, who wants that?
How do we break this habit?
Here are three great tips to help prevent overeating – if you’re serious about avoiding this problem, try to make these 3 behaviours 3 new healthy habits to use EVERY DAY!
Tip #1: Start with some water
When I smell my favorite dishes cooking, the last thing I want is water. But, drinking a big glass of water about 20 minutes before your meal is a great way to trick your stomach into thinking you’ve eaten. You’ll eat less overall and maybe even lose weight!
Sometimes hunger signals or tummy growls are just your body’s way of saying it needs some water (because, hey, a lot of us don’t get our 2 to 3 liters per day, right?).
And, just as an added bonus, drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism! So, drink up!
If you’ve assaulted your stomach with big meals for a long time, try adding 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your water. ACV is known to stimulate digestive juices, which will help break down food and get nutrients to your cells faster.
Tip #2: Eat “mindfully”
My Dad is the epitome of a mindful eater. I have never once seen him scarf down a meal; rather, he sits quietly at the table, taking one bite of food at a time, often putting his utensils down between each bite. He slowly eats his meals and seems to always know when to stop. When I think of mindful eating, I picture my Dad. That’s who I strive to be when it comes to eating meals.
Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation. Being mindful really means paying attention, whether it’s to your breathing, your surroundings, your intuition or your food. Mindful eating means paying attention to your food, savouring the taste, texture and smell of each and every bite. In between each bite, breathe. Remember to be gracious for your food and your ability to enjoy it.
When you eat slowly, your stomach has a better chance of signalling that it has had enough. It takes approximately 20 minutes for satiety signals to reach the brain, so scarfing down a huge meal in 10 minutes is what makes us feel overly stuffed and uncomfortable afterwards.
Take your time to eat your meals. Avoid distractions, like the TV or a book, because your attention is then not focused on your food and you just keep shovelling and shovelling and shovelling food in until you suddenly feel awful!
Try using a smaller plate and, like my Dad, put your fork down between each bite. And chew! Do not forget to chew!
Tip #3: Start with the salad
Okay, that chili or roast chicken smells divine and you want to DIG RIGHT IN! Hold up – before you do that, start with a small salad or a broth-based soup that’s heavy on the vegetables.
Vegetables are a great way to begin every meal because they’re full of both water and fibre, two foods that help you feel full for longer. They’re also full of an array of healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so you can’t go wrong with either a salad or soup!
Anything that helps you feel satiated will definitely help you avoid overeating, so dig into that salad first before your yummy main dish!
Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas
Pure, filtered water is wonderful for the body but if you need a bit of flavor and variety in your water, try infusing it with these fruit combinations (or make your own):
- Slices of lemon & ginger
- Slices of strawberries & orange
- Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
- Chopped pineapple & mango
- Blueberries & raspberries
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.