By: Mike Collette
If you’re like me, you love food.
And if you love food, you may want to continue reading because overeating can be a real problem that haunts a lot of us!
The problem is we don’t tend to overdo it on fruits and vegetables, we tend to overdo it on more calorically dense foods. I’m talking about the chips, cookies, ice cream, and candy (to name a few). Basically the sweet and salty stuff. And even if we’re trying to be “clean” we can still overdo it with foods such as nuts or butter’s or high-fat foods that we believe we can just eat an unlimited amount of.
After all, we’re the ones buying this stuff right? And we’re the ones consuming it! So you think we would be able to avoid eating it? But it’s not that easy.
There are a few problems that put us in this position in the first place:
- We’re suckers for good marketing. Have you ever gone to the grocery store and saw the“organic Oreos”? You may think that they’re a better option than the regular or even the double stuffed, but the labels aren’t much different. The reality is there almost the same! Don’t be tricked by this stuff!
- Why not get a deal? We tend to double down on portion sizes when we buy food. This might be because of a slight discount OR the amount of food you can get vs. a less calorically dense option is just more bang for your buck so you buy it.
- We all love a little variety! You’re not going to overeat on apples but when you have guests over and you put out cheese and crackers, guac and chips, carrots and hummus, and Chex mix… well, you tend to eat a mix of all of this before you even eat your meal!
- We’re also suckers for a bunch of flavors. Sugar, fat, and salt alone might not be something we overindulge in insolation, but when you combine all of that into a snack… there is no way you’re only having one bite. The more calorically dense snacks out there, the more you’ll want to eat and it’s hard to resist… that chocolate salted caramel brownie, for example, try just having one : )
So now that we know some of the things working against us, we need to have some strategies to use to change our overeating behavior. At the end of the day, overeating is a choice and requires behavior modification, but awareness AND knowing how much your body needs for your specific goals is the first step!
Below I’ve outlined some tips that if you practice regularly will certainly help you!
- Chew your food! It’s easier to overeat when the food you’re eating is easy to chew. SLOW DOWN even if you’re eating some really easy food to eat. The longer you take to chew, the slower you eat and the more you realize you’re satiated. So set aside at least 20 minutes to eat, put your utensils down between bites, and chew slowly!
- Evaluate what you’re buying. At Prototype nutrition, we preach flexible eating, meaning we believe that you can fit those “snacky foods” into your lifestyle nutrition plan. The big thing is if you are consistently eating calorically dense foods, you may want to limit those temptations until you sort through how to fit those foods into your plan. Furthermore, think about WHY you’re buying those foods in the first place and when you tend to be most tempted to overeat. If the temptation isn’t there, it may be better for you in the short term!
- Do you get #triggered? Even when we aren’t hungry, something may trigger us to overeat. For example, let’s say you’re working from home (like a lot of us are) and you find yourself getting stressed out at the computer. So you take a break and go look to see what’s in the fridge or pantry. You eat a bit, then go back to work. These triggers don’t need to be a feeling of stress, it could be the time of day, social setting, a place OR you just feel you deserve it.
- Replace overeating from your triggers. Once you identify these consistent triggers, replace them with something other than overeating snacks that might not fit into your plan. For example, you get stressed out from work, so instead of grabbing the bag of Oreos as a reward, take a long walk. Other things you can do to replace this urge are exercise, meditation, reading, or other creative hobbies (maybe a sudoku puzzle!).
- Cook more. I know the convenience of eating out or ordering in is awesome. But doing this consistently is what can put us in a position to overeat. The better solution would be to cook more meals at home. You can manage what you eat better, it’s more efficient on your wallet AND you can always have some delicious leftovers that you can use as snacks!
- Enjoy the journey, respect yourself! Putting yourself down and going on crash diets might work in the short term (motivation and caloric restriction) but they can often be major disruptors for your long term goals as they are not sustainable. Instead, take small steps, be open-minded to these strategies, and track your progress. Building solid habits doesn’t happen overnight, so the more you support yourself on your journey the more likely you will progress forward!