When is it time to stop eating? Well, when we are full of course! But, are we really in tune with our bodies to know when it’s time to put down the fork? Unfortunately, for many of us we struggle with overeating for various reasons. Is it possible to stop overeating? How?
In my opinion the first step is awareness; one has to be aware of what they are doing in order to change that habit. Start to pay attention to what you are eating, when and why.
Become aware of your internal feeling and guides. The body has some amazing control measures, using the hormones leptin and ghrelin as messengers to deliver hunger and fullness cues.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Yet, if we lose the awareness of ourselves and what our bodies are trying to tell us, these signals are useless.
Additionally, we often run on autopilot when it comes to food and eating. Thinking about the next meeting, appointment or what’s next but planning for meals is not really a thought in our head until the last minute.
Its then we run on autopilot, selecting the same items for takeout, out of the freezer, etc that increases the tendency to overeat.
It’s this mindless eating, if you will, that can push us into overeating as we are not paying attention to choices or options, nonetheless those good old cues our bodies are sending us. It’s not only about being aware, but also being mindful. Once you are aware of what you are doing, you can start to think, question and be mindful of what to do next.
Overeating may sometimes come with some baggage. For many of us there is a reason why we are overeating. Maybe we are bored, tired, depressed, stressed, unprepared.
Again, being aware of what we are doing and how you feel, we can then look to change those patterns or habits.
Start to question why you are eating this way, is it because you are stressed? Are you really hungry? What other things can you do to relieve you stress other than eat?
Practicing being aware of what you are doing and being mindful of your action can lend itself too eventually “catching yourself “in the moment and pulling yourself out of it. Maybe go for a walk or journal or even seek the assistance and support of health professionals to help you overcome your overeating habits.
Here are some additional strategies to stop overeating for good:
As mentioned your body has control signals but they need time to communicate. Research suggests is takes about 20 minutes from your mouth/stomach to signal the brain to say hey stop eating! So slow down at meal times and really enjoy your foods.
This will help with slowing things down! Chew your food! Digestion begins in the mouth, so let it do some of the work. The better you are able to chew your food, the better the gut/brain communication will be.
Relaxed meal time
Often we are pressed for time in our day to day grind, so use meal times as a break! Take the time to slow down, chew, and enjoy your food.
Don’t be distracted either! Sit at the table, not in front of a TV, your desk or on the go somehow. Be aware and mindful of your meal to be able to recognize those bodily cues.
Sometimes we just love food! A special meal or treat and all self-control goes out the window. This is where you practice portion control. I tell clients all the time, start with a single serving.
You can go back for seconds if you really wanted to but start with a single portion.
Then be aware and mindful, question yourself; “Am I still hungry?”, “What do I want more of?”.
These small acts will often us putting the fork down and saying I’m done or at the very least identifying what we wanted more of, as opposed to another full plate of food.
When you think about it, we don’t overeat broccoli or kale, its often unhealthy, caloric, low nutrient foods. Eating more nutrient dense foods, more whole foods and less processed foods will naturally curb overeating.
You are giving your body quality foods, what it is asking for and those signals will tone down, until it’s the next meal time. Be aware of what you are putting in your body.
Keep a food log
Writing down what you eat, has a sense of ownership. If you write down you ate two cupcakes at the office party, you own that choice now. Keeping a food log of what you eat, offers accountability and ties into the concepts of being aware and mindful.
You can use this log to identify patterns and feelings and then use this as a tool for change. It’s also great to have documentation of where you were at then, and where you are at now since implementing some changes.
Are you thirsty? Dehydration can cause mixed signals, leading us to reach for food items as opposed to some water. Again, practice being aware and paying attention to your fluid intake can curb the urge to overeat.
Write down what you drink if keeping a food log, noting that sugary drinks often lead to a snack attack. Paying attention to thirst and have a glass or two of water could be the change you need.
You can stop overeating for good! Be aware, mindful and accountable of your choices. And give yourself sometime!
It more than likely took months or years to develop an overeating pattern, therefore allow yourself the time to break the pattern/habit. It won’t happen overnight, but in time with consistency you will learn to give your body what it is asking for – quality nourishing foods.