Not to be confused with binge eating, overeating is the act of consuming larger portions than you need to, potentially more frequently than you should be. It can usually be attributed to mindless eating or boredom, and can sometimes feel like a difficult pattern to break when you’re trying to get your calorie consumption in order.
Below are 5 tips that I like to try and encourage my online coaching clients to try out which have a high success rate and can create more mindful eating patterns.
One - Increasing dietary protein intake
Read this post here to learn how you can use protein to aid in weight loss. Protein is a macronutrient which I often see women not eating enough of. Protein isn’t just for body builders and athletes, it will also help you maintain satiety between meals.
Rather than having huge pangs of hunger leading to big meals, adequate protein intake will help reduce blood sugar fluctuations, and you’ll notice hunger will come on more slowly than it had previously.
Many processed ‘snack’ foods can be high in fats and carbohydrates, but low in protein, so our body may not be satisfied with these foods and keep requesting for more. You’re less likely to recognise you’re full with a low protein meal.
Two - Plan your meals
Planning what you’ll eat will help eliminate spontaneity that can come up simply for ‘something to do’. If you’ve already planned your food, got your ingredients, and potentially even prepped some of your food, it means that when you’re hungry you can go for what’s there, rather than letting your imagination (and cravings) decide for you. Planning your meals will also ensure you’re eating regularly enough throughout the day and that you’ve got meals packed and with you if you are at work or out and about.
Three - Break your routine (and create a new one)
It’s easy to build a habit, which also means it’s easy to build a bad habit. So let’s figure out how we can break it up! I like to tell clients to try injecting something into their schedule that they wouldn’t have done previously.
Maybe your routine used to be:
> come home
> take off shoes
> sit on couch
> put on Netflix
> order food
So we need to try adding in a new element which will cause a focus shift and send us on a new trajectory, and you need to tie it to something you’re already going to do anyway. Let’s try this:
> come home
> take off shoes + change into activewear and joggers
> go for a quick 10-20 min walk to clear your head
> come home and shower
> cook dinner
You’re still keeping elements of what you were doing before, but by putting a small pattern break in you can force yourself to alter habits that aren’t serving your goals.
Four - Learn your portion sizes
What does 1 serving of chips (crisps) look like? What about 1 serving of oats? Do you know? Let’s get familiar with serving sizes and your ideal portion size can be a great way to gain understanding of how much food your body really requires.
I like to suggest to beginners to download an app such as Lifesum to track their calories and look at what a day of food should really be for their body type. This is not to say that you have to track calories every day for the rest of your life, if you want to track for a while you can, but at least track for 1-2 weeks before changing your diet to see firstly what you have been eating before you switch anything up. By doing this you’ll understand exactly how much you and what type of foods you have been eating to get where you’re at currently, prior to changing things up. If you don’t know where you started - how do you know what changes worked?
Some tools you can use to control your portions:
- Switching plates to smaller sizes (many plates have increased in sizes over the last few years!)
- Using a measuring cup/spoons and/or scales to measure out portion sizes rather than guessing
Five - You eat what you see
What you see available is what you will eat. Yes this can be difficult if you live and share pantry/fridge space with others, but it’s up to you to decide what you will eat, no-one is force feeding you. If you keep healthy foods/snacks (that you actually like) and a water bottle on hand, you’ll go for them before you start sniffing around for other options.