Loosening your belt, feeling bloated and lethargic…we all know that awful feeling that comes with overeating. Most times, that feeling can be described by one main word: regret.
Sometimes, you might find a dish so delicious that you find yourself not just eating to satisfaction, but rather until you’re bloated and uncomfortable.
But overeating doesn’t just happen with your favorite, mind-blowingly tasty foods, though. It’s possible that you’re overeating several times a day—which could be sabotaging your attempts at being healthy and fit. It can be difficult to tell when is an acceptable time to stop.
You may be thinking: but how can I stop overeating when it’s so hard?
Don’t fret: there are ways to avoid overeating to keep you satisfied, but not bursting.
How to Avoid Overeating
1. Drink lots of water
Have you been drinking enough? You might be munching a bit too much because you’re confusing the sensation of being hungry with being thirsty, according to registered dietician Amy Margulies. Try drinking a glass of water before every meal to ensure that your thirst is quenched—and plus, you’ll be a little fuller from the start!
2. Use smaller plates
According to Brian Wansink, PhD, our portions have risen drastically in the past few decades, and one of the reasons is that the size of our plates has increased by approximately 36%.
The more room on the plate, the more likely we are to fill them—as Dr. Wansink points out, 6 ounces of pasta looks like an adequate portion size on an 8 inch plate, but the same amount of pasta on a twelve inch plate looks more like an appetizer. Try using smaller plates to control your portion sizes.
3. Take half the portion you think you need
Eyes can be bigger than the stomach, and for this reason, many tend to take heaping portions as if they’ll never have the chance to eat again. As you’re taking a portion, say to yourself, “I can always go back for seconds,” and give yourself about half of the portion you’d normally take.
When you’re finished, consider if you’re still hungry enough for another (half!) helping, or if taking another helping would simply be overeating.
4. Eat slowly
You’ve probably heard this tip in various forms—chew each bite thoroughly, take a sip of water or put down your fork between each bite, etc. They all boil down to the same fact: the longer you take to eat, the more time you give your body to digest and your brain to alert you when you’re full. In fact, according to the University of Wyoming, it takes approximately 20 minutes for this gut-brain response to happen.
It won’t seem long to you at all if you work on chewing slowly. Don’t wolf down your food (no one’s going to take it from you!). Take some time to savor the flavor!
Related: 8 Things Healthy People Do
5. Ask yourself why
Why are you eating? Though food is, indeed, awesome, the only real reason you should eat is because you’re hungry. If your stomach isn’t growling with hunger, you’re likely craving food for another reason.
Are you bored? Are you feeling emotional? Or are you hungry because of the environment you’re in, e.g. popcorn at the movies? All of these things can lead to overeating.
Be aware of your mental state as well as your surroundings to make more informed decisions and you’ll be less likely to overeat.
No one likes the feeling of overeating. It can seem difficult to control portion sizes and keep yourself from stuffing yourself, but you can avoid overeating by drinking plenty of water, using smaller plates, taking only half of the portion you think you need, chewing slowly, and asking yourself why you’re eating.
Through these tactics, you can take control of your eating habits so that you eat to the point of satisfaction—not regret.
Photo by Shellular Kellular
Originally posted 1/2014 and updated 11/2014.