It can be hard not to over-eat. You eat a healthy meal at home, think you’re doing well, then you head out in public and are surrounded by junk food and ads for junk food. You get hungry, and pretty soon you’re at the local burger joint.
Or maybe you stick to the “right” foods, but they’re just so good that you can’t have just one portion. We’ve all been there. That used to be me and was honestly my biggest problem in the past. I would honestly eat until I was miserable almost every meal of the day, especially dinner. Like comedian, Jim Gaffigan says, “The meal isn’t over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself.” Funny and sad, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If I conquered it, then so can you.
These following six strategies can help:
Add vinegar and cinnamon to meals to regulate blood sugar. If you are looking to add more flavor to beverages or food, skip the sugar; there are plenty of spices and flavors that will make your food both more flavorful and healthier. Vinegar, which has been shown to lower the glycemic index, (meaning you metabolize the food more slowly) adds acidic flavor to salad dressings, sauces and roasted veggies without a lot of calories. As for cinnamon, add it to things such as coffee, smoothies, chili, etc. Like vinegar, cinnamon slows the rate at which food transits from your stomach to your intestine aka keeps you more full longer.
Eat when you’re not hungry. Sounds counterproductive, I know, but when you get really hungry, you over-eat. This was my biggest downfall, especially at dinner time, as I mentioned above. When you over-eat, you feel full, but then your insulin levels spike, causing you to feel tired, then hungry again. So the cycle keeps repeating itself.
Instead of trying to resist hunger, beat it to the punch. If you eat when you’re either not hungry or only slightly hungry, you’ll eat less and tend to eat more slowly. Eating less throughout the day is great, but having more energy is ideal and better for your body. That’s why I coach my clients to eat 4-6 smaller meals throughout the day and that’s exactly what I do as well.
Drink water, not liquid calories. In my opinion, this is the reason why most people are overweight and/or obese. I used to dismiss liquids in my diet, because they are liquid and your body processes the more quickly, right? Wrong! They are very sneaky and probably worse than real food. At least food will kind of slow you down, but liquid calories, such as soda, juices, beer, “sports drinks,” etc. are just empty calories. They cause dehydration and lead to insulin spikes as well. Stick with sparkling or filtered water. You can flavor it with lemon, strawberries or cucumber if you want, but don’t pack your drinks full of calories.
Aim to drink at least three-quarters of a gallon of water a day. Also, be sure to drink a glass about 20 minutes before each meal to take the edge of your appetite.
And if you still want to enjoy adult beverages without all of the empty calories, then read my blog post on alcohol.
Eat slowly. This was another problem of mine. I was raised in a military family, so we ate fast. As you ingest food there is a 10-30 minute delay until you actually feel it. Hence being able to eat a large pizza or a giant burrito in a matter of minutes, because your body hasn’t had time to catch up. Then all of a sudden it hits you and you feel miserable after the fact. There’s a simple solution to this, slow down! Have a small plate, drink some water, maybe get up and walk around, help in the kitchen, and if you’re still hungry after all of that, then have more.
Have a small, flavorless snack between meals. A handful of unsalted almonds or unsalted nuts are a perfect example here. This works thanks to psychology and biology, because it regulates hunger hormones. It’s in our DNA as humans to crave salt, fat, and sugar. So, for this to work, the snack must be bland and then you are less likely to over-eat during the next meal.
Try the “front door” snack technique. This last one is my favorite and probably the easiest to do. Knowing that your willpower is reduced when you’re hungry, and there’s more tempting junk food outside the home than in it, you should fill up on healthy food before leaving home. Keep healthy snacks readily available, such as jerky, almonds, kale chips, protein shakes, protein bars, etc. and eat them before you leave home. I typically have a shake before I leave the house and it makes it much easier to pass on the junk food.
Do you have any tricks or tips that aren’t on this list?