7 Easy Ways To Avoid Overeating (And Still Feel Full)
Knowing how much you should be eating in s given sitting and feeling truly satisfied with that amount of food are two entirely different things. That’s why we so often reach for seconds when we know we probably shouldn’t, or even just say, “Screw it,” and mindlessly power through our comfort food of choice in front of the television. But if you want to get a handle on your tendency to overeat without actually depriving yourself of food, there are strategies you can try — seven, to be exact.
1. Practice mindful eating.
Taking time with your food is critical in the battle against overeating. Slow down and experience mealtime with all of your senses. How does the dish presentation look? How does its scent combinations make you feel? What kind of texture are you anticipating? And finally, what does a single bite taste like? Try closing your eyes while you’re chewing and see if you can heighten your sense of taste even more, picking up on subtle notes of herbs and spices you might have missed before. Eating mindfully is entirely different from simply chowing down, and it can be a totally transformative experience.
2. Avoid distractions at mealtime.
If the mindful route doesn’t feel right for you, the least you can do is close the laptop, turn off the television, silence your phone and give your meal your undivided attention. It’s amazing how much more we end up consuming when we simply lack awareness of what’s right in front of us. The only acceptable “distraction” is the company you keep your dinner table, be it your family, your friends or your significant other. Appreciate the meal together as you appreciate quality time with one another — tech-free.
3. Chew your food… a lot.
When you feel ravenously hungry, it’s easy to just scarf down bite after bite, and before you know it, the entire plate is empty and you don’t even feel satisfied by the full meal you inhaled. So, again, slow down and focus intently on chewing your food. It sounds silly, but you’re supposed to chew softer foods 5-10 times before swallowing, and denser foods like meat need to be chewed up to 30 times before swallowing. If you’re eating quickly at all, there’s no way you’re chewing your food nearly enough. We’re not saying you need to be counting every time (that would be obsessive), but it’s definitely something to think about if you have an issue with overeating.
4. And drink plenty of water before and throughout your meal.
Water is your friend in so many ways. Drinking enough water before eating helps you establish just how hungry you are in the first place since dehydration can often mimic hunger. And then during mealtime, drinking water can aid in the digestion of your meal, as well as fill the excess space in your stomach so you don’t feel the compulsion to keep eating beyond your point of satiety. When you want another bite, take a sip of water first and then see how you feel. Worst-case scenario, you boost your overall hydration level.
5. Use a smaller plate.
Don’t let your eyes deceive you. Thanks to our visuospatial abilities, placing a normal amount of food on a large plate can make the portion seem too small, so we psychologically want seconds once we’ve cleaned the plate. However, the opposite also holds true — placing a standard portion on a small plate makes you feel like you’re being a little indulgent and will likely leave you feeling more satisfied at the end of your meal. So downsize that dinnerware and start munching away.
6. Put leftovers away immediately.
If the possibility of seconds (and thirds) is usually what gets to you, eliminate that impulse before it even strikes. Place the amount of food you know your body needs on your plate and then immediately wrap up any leftovers so they’re ready for fridge storage. Placing extra nibbles out of sight will often help them disappear from your mind. (You can do this when eating out, too, by asking the waiter to bring you a box with your meal and immediately placing half of your entrée in the to-go space.) This practice will also help you learn about the ideal portion size for yourself, and you’ll only get better and better at eyeballing it the first time around.
7. Opt for wholesome foods.
Surprise, surprise — the higher quality food you eat, the more satisfied and nourished your body will feel. So load your plate with an interesting medley of fiber-rich vegetables, a solid complex carbohydrate like sweet potatoes and a healthy protein soucre, and dig in. You will undoubtedly feel fuller for longer with a standard portion of a powerhouse meal than you will after speed-eating a burger and fries. This logic follows for snacking, too. Opting for almonds over potato chips will prevent a surprising amount of overeating in the long run.