Self-control is a struggle for many people, especially when it comes to food. Eating too much in one sitting or taking in too many calories throughout the day are common habits that can be hard to break. Over time, eating too much food can lead to weight gain and put you at risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Plus, it can hold you back from reaching your health and wellness goals and may negatively impact your emotional well-being. Although breaking the cycle of overeating can be challenging, there are ways to kick this unhealthy habit for good.
Here are 7 effective ways to stop overeating.
1. Know Your Weaknesses
Pinpointing which foods you have a particularly hard time limiting can help you decrease your chances of overeating. For example, if you have a habit of eating a large bowl of ice cream every night, stop keeping ice cream in your freezer. Preparing healthy options like a sliced apple with peanut butter, hummus and veggies, or homemade trail mix can help you make better choices when you are hankering for a treat. Another helpful tip is to keep unhealthy snack foods like chips, candy and cookies out of sight so that you aren’t tempted to grab a handful every time you walk past.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Adopting mindful eating techniques is one of the best ways to prevent overeating. The practice of mindful eating stresses the importance of focusing on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts, emotions and senses while consuming food. Many studies have shown that mindful eating is an effective way to reduce binge eating behaviors, overeating and emotional eating. Eating more slowly, taking small bites, chewing thoroughly, being aware of your senses and appreciating your food are all simple mindfulness practices you can incorporate into your daily routine.
3. Get Rid of Distractions
Whether it’s working through lunch in front of the computer or noshing on chips while you catch up on your favorite television show, eating while distracted is a common occurrence for most people. While this habit might seem harmless, it may be causing you to overeat. A review of 24 studies found that being distracted during a meal led people to consume more calories at that meal. It also caused them to eat more food later in the day compared to people who paid attention to their food while eating.
4. Don’t Ban All Your Favorite Foods
Restrictive eating patterns that cut out many of your favorite foods may cause you to feel deprived and drive you to binge on forbidden treats. Diets that concentrate on whole, unprocessed foods are always best, but making room for an occasional treat is perfectly healthy. Swearing that you will never have a scoop of ice cream, slice of pizza or piece of chocolate again is not realistic for most people. Instead, focus on providing your body with mostly healthy, nutritious food while also giving yourself the freedom to truly enjoy a treat here and there.
5. Avoid Eating From Containers
Eating chips out of the bag, ice cream out of the carton or takeout straight from the box can lead you to consume more food than you need. Instead, portion out a single serving size on a plate or in a bowl to help control the number of calories you are consuming. To train your eye, try measuring out serving sizes for a week or two until you know what a normal portion should look like.
6. Eat Fiber-Rich Foods
Choosing foods that are rich in fiber like beans, vegetables, oats and fruit can help keep you feeling satisfied longer and reduce the urge to overeat. For example, one study found that people who ate fiber-rich oatmeal for breakfast felt fuller and ate less at lunch than those who consumed cornflakes for breakfast. Snacking on nuts, adding beans to your salad and eating vegetables at every meal may help reduce the amount of food you consume.
7. Eat Regular Meals
When attempting to lose weight, many people cut out meals in the hope that it will decrease the number of calories they take in. While this may work in some instances, such as intermittent fasting, restricting meals may cause you to eat more later in the day. Studies have demonstrated that eating more frequently throughout the day may decrease hunger and overall food intake. For example, some people may skip lunch to restrict calories, only to find themselves overeating at dinner. However, eating a balanced lunch may actually help reduce the chances of eating too much later in the day