Binge eating, overeating, and emotional eating are serious concerns and can be quite challenging to overcome. You may not even know if you have an issue with overeating. But you can change your eating habits.
Read this ultimate guideline on how to avoid overeating and build a healthier lifestyle. Say no to junk food.
Your Ultimate Guide On How To Avoid Overeating
Everyone has their specific weaknesses to contend with. Whether your vice is ice cream, salty chips, baked goods, sugary cereals, or any other kind of junk food, it can be hard to stop eating something delicious once you start. So, how can you look your bad eating habits in the face and avoid them once and for all?
Well, healthy eating doesn’t have to be flavorless. On the contrary, learning to eat healthily and cook the right meals can inspire creativity in the kitchen and make your meals taste even better. Even if weight loss isn’t your goal, overeating just isn’t healthy.
Of course, changing any habit can be challenging. Cutting calories initially can be a real struggle. But weight gain from overeating and emotional eating can take a toll on your body.
Environmental stresses can be influential factors in eating habits. Overconsumption of food can be linked with serious weight gain and increased adiposity can be a precursor to some troubling health issues like:
- Poor blood sugar regulation
- Compromised cholesterol levels
- Unhealthy blood pressure1
Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your weight or eating habits. They can help you come up with a plan to set some goals for supporting your health.
What Are Possible Reasons For Overeating?
Overeating is can be prompted by many influences, some of which can feel completely out of your control.2
One of the defining traits of overeating can be to consume a great number of calories in a short period of time.
There are a few habits recognized in association with overeating:
- Eating food quickly
- Consuming food when you’re not actually hungry
- Continuing to eat even if you’re full or uncomfortable
- Emotions of extreme guilt about how much was eaten
- Feelings of shame about the method of eating3
In many cases, instances of overeating don’t even start because you’re hungry. They occur during instances of boredom, extreme stress, frustration, anger, or other kinds of distress. Usually, in these cases, overeating is a way people cope with relieving stress or coping with high emotion. Stress and negative environmental forces have been noted by researchers as important risk factors for significant weight gain and bouts of overeating.4
At this point, you might be wondering why food can feel like comfort. The truth is, there’s a science behind the phenomenon: Carbohydrates help your body produce hormones like tryptophan and serotonin which can give you a false feeling of calm or cause temporary relaxation.5
For those who are stressed, binge eating can feel like self-medicating. Food isn’t really what you want in these moments though, comfort is what your body wants when you binge eat.
Fix Your Eating Schedule: Learn The Proper Ways And Timing Of Food Intake
An eating schedule is another really effective way to keep your habits in check. One really easy example incorporates intermittent fasting — though it may not be right for everyone. You’ll need to talk to your doctor before giving intermittent fasting a try. But, for the sake of example, consider waking and enjoying your morning tea or coffee. Then you don’t eat until lunchtime. When lunch begins at noon, for example, you’ve opened the window of eating. You can enjoy healthy snacks during your open food window, but you should close the window just after dinner (a few hours before your bedtime).
This would essentially mean you’ll eat a meal at noon and a meal at six in the evening and be able to have healthy snacks in between. Putting a limit on your time to consume calories can help your body process food with more ease.
Another suggestion as it relates to schedule is to set times for meals and snacks.
Breakfast when you rise, lunch around noon, and an early dinner at dusk work well. Allow yourself a healthy snack in between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner. If you’re someone who likes dessert, you should allow yourself a healthy treat at the end of dinner. Eating too late can lead to poor food choices. And late-night hunger often leads to foods you shouldn’t really eat before bed anyway.
Physical Activity Plays A Major Role And Can Help Build A Healthy Habit
Exercising doesn’t have to mean pumping iron or running marathons. A daily walk can help you burn calories and it’s a great tactic to use to distract yourself from overeating. For instance, if you are craving a sleeve of cookies, count to 100. As you’re counting, go grab your sneakers and step outside. Just start walking. Even a ten-minute walk will allow you a little time to calm down if you’re stressed.
Even if you come back from your walk and are still hungry, you’ll likely not make the same choices you would’ve made without getting a little exercise. You’ll trick your mind into wanting something a little healthier because you just did something good for yourself.
One great way to stop a bad habit is to interrupt it. So, even if walking isn’t the type of physical activity you enjoy, a bike ride or a swim can do the same thing by interrupting the moment in which your stress might drive you to eat.
Mindful Eating: Consume Whole Foods To Your Heart’s Content And Make Eating Purposeful
The most effective way to ensure you’re eating well is to eat whole foods. Whole food is healthy food. Truly, whole foods are foods that come from the earth. Whole foods are not processed. Processed foods usually come in boxes or bags or jars and they are loaded with chemicals and preservatives.
But whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and pasture-raised animal proteins can be more satisfying than a bag of nutritionless chips or cookies.
When you do decide to prepare your meal, practice mindful eating. Sit at your kitchen table. Don’t zone out on your favorite TV show or work while you eat. Focus on eating. Sometimes focusing on your meal will allow you to truly taste it which may help you feel satisfied.
Finally, you don’t have to be a member of the ‘clean plate club’. You can instead become a member of the ‘save the rest for later’ club. Growing up, it’s likely your parents asked you to finish all of the food on your plate so as not to waste it.
You can still stop eating when full and save your food. Listen to your body. Stop when you’re full. Then, just keep your leftovers in the fridge until you’re legitimately hungry again. Or, enjoy not having to make lunch tomorrow because you can eat what was left today.
How To Avoid Overeating: You Can Do It
It’s not easy to limit your food intake when you’re feeling stressed or busy. So many times, people look for an easy answer. But the easiest answer doesn’t have to be binge eating fast food. Stick to eating whole foods until you feel full.
Whether or not your goal is weight loss, go for a walk if you feel a binge coming on. And give yourself a food schedule. If you’re not within your ‘eating hours,’ don’t eat. And when you’re within your food window, choose what you consume wisely.
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