There is no concrete definition for overeating—it’s different for everybody and can be subjective depending on the situation. If you have had plenty of snacks right before dinner, you might be overeating, even if the quantity is normal. In general, overeating can be defined as eating more food than your body can comfortably process at one time.
According to ace wellness dietician Kylie Arrendall, “Overeating is eating beyond what’s needed to fuel your body.” Occasional overeating is not much of a problem. However, when it becomes a constant and a habit, overeating can lead to severe illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and metabolic syndrome. In this article, we will look into ten ways to stop overeating and maintain a healthy life.
Eat Fibrous and Protein-Rich Foods
Protein and fiber-rich foods are a very important part of a balanced diet that people often miss. Besides the health benefits, these foods are also known for their satiety property because they take longer to digest. Eating low-calorie, high-fiber foods before meals can help you feel full and satisfied and prevent your overeating habit.
For comparison, let us take cheese and a plate of roasted vegetables. Both foods have similar levels of calories, but roasted vegetables give you a feeling of fullness earlier than cheese. And, since the cheese slices are far less fulfilling, you end up eating a lot of them and intake lots of carbs.
Therefore, eating fiber-rich foods helps keep your body feeling satisfied longer and also reduces the urge to overeat. Apart from eliminating the overeating habit, protein and fiber-rich foods also regulate the glucose levels of the body, which are born from carbs. In addition, nuts, beans, and vegetables are high in satiating fiber, which helps you feel full longer.
Check If You Are Really Hungry
Eating in the absence of your hunger also could be a sign that you are overeating and could eventually lead to some serious illness. Often people tend to munch something or the other even when they are not hungry. The reasons for this might be you are bored, stressed/depressed, or find something that you love eating.
Temptation is something that might drive you toward eating a lot more than your body requires. On the other hand, eating while you are tempted to do so might make you feel great for the moment. Therefore, to control your overeating, you might want to hold those temptations and turn such comforting foods into lighter fare.
And, as for eating when you are depressed or bored, maybe find some friends to hang out with. Or try taking up an activity that is far more enjoyable and healthy, and prevents your urge to munch. And, next time you feel hungry, ask yourself how hungry you actually are.
Drink an Adequate Amount of Water
Often the human brain confuses thirst and hunger, and we end up eating meals and snacks. With this, the confusing hunger we feel could be satisfied just by drinking a glass of water. Therefore, when you feel hungry at a particular time when you shouldn’t, you might want to first try a glass of water.
Also, people tend to prefer sugary beverages instead of drinking a glass of water. This is because it is soothing to the human tongue, but it is worth noting that it is equally harmful to the body. Sugary beverages and carbonated drinks are often linked with overeating, weight gain, and increased risks of diabetes and kidney ailments.
In order to sip an adequate amount of H2O, you could carry a bottle of it with you—in the office or while you are walking in the park. Keep sipping it throughout the day, and try to drink at least one cup of water with your meals and a cup before the meal. Additionally, adequate water intake will help your digestive system to function well and make you feel more full.
Pay Attention to Your Hunger Cues
Food is our fuel and energizes us, but there are many reasons one might want to eat. However, there is only one you would want to know and be serious about, which is to nourish and energize the body.
It’s important to recognize the difference between normal hunger signals and those induced by emotions or stress. Feeling weak or irritable, perhaps with a grumbling stomach and trouble concentrating, are all hunger symptoms.
Understanding hunger signs and how to handle them can help prevent overeating without addressing any underlying issues. For example, if you are feeling hungry due to work stress, talk to a friend, and if your stomach is growling, you can grab something to munch until and unless it is your meal time. But make a note not to overeat in between meals.
Another major cause of overeating could be that you are eating too quickly. When you eat too quickly, you may not give yourself enough time to realize that you’re satisfied and full. Ultimately, you might end up eating much more than the body requires.
When you eat slowly and chew your food, you initiate the digestive process, releasing nutrients into the stomach. Chewing well ensures that the body absorbs more nutrients from your meal.
Eating slowly allows your brain to catch up to your stomach and sends signals that tell you when it’s time to stop eating. This signaling process takes around 20 minutes. Therefore, eating slowly within that time will help you prevent overeating. On the contrary, when you eat rapidly within that time, you could eat a larger portion of the meal.
Peaceful Eating Without Any Distractions
Distractions are often a significant factor contributing to your overeating habit and, ultimately, weight gain. Unfortunately, many people overeat just because they are distracted while eating, and the distraction could be absolutely anything.
It might be having a conversation or discussion, watching television, scrolling your Instagram on the phone, or even reading a book. By having your meal accompanied by these distractions, you are not be paying attention to what you are eating or its quantity.
As a result, you will be overeating, which is not good for your health. To prevent overeating and put the brakes on weight gain, it’s important to learn how to eat peacefully and enjoy each bite of food without distractions. So, next time you are at your table having your meal, silence your phone and keep your books aside!
Know Your Trigger Foods
There are many things that can trigger your hunger, such as boredom, stress, and actual hunger. One of the prime reasons you might feel hungry is your trigger foods, but this is not your stomach or brain asking for the food. Trigger foods are those foods that might trigger your hunger despite you not wanting to have anything at that particular moment.
Whenever you see foods like these that are your favorite, or what we call trigger foods, you want to eat them. But, ultimately, you turn out to be consuming a lot more of them. For some people, trigger foods could be a delicious sundae, while some might crave a packet of crunchy deep-fried chips.
Learning to identify which foods trigger your false hunger can help you avoid them and stop your habit of overeating them. However, this does not mean you have to completely forbid everything. The key is to eat mostly whole and unprocessed foods and occasionally treat yourself to your favorite food.
As mentioned above, stress is one of many triggers that might trigger your hunger. Stress is, of course, unavoidable, whether work-related or family-related. Since stress is inevitable, one must find ways to at least reduce it and stay healthy both physically and mentally.
Talking about stress-driven hunger, many of you might wonder how stress makes you feel hungry. Well, there is simple science behind it! Chronic stress can cause a hormone known as cortisol into your bloodstream, increasing your appetite.
Additionally, studies have also proved that stress leads to overeating, binge eating, and ultimately unhealthy body and weight gain. However, there are numerous ways to reduce stress in your everyday life. Some common ways of stress reduction include working out, listening to music, practicing yoga, meditation, and taking up activities that excite you.
Quality Sleep Is Equally Important
Does lack of sleep stimulate your eating habit? The answer is a big “Yes.” Insufficient sleep is often associated with habits like overeating and craving unhealthy and processed foods. Not surprisingly, sleepless nights are also linked to gaining weight.
Our stomach produces a hunger hormone called ghrelin, which directly affects our sleeping patterns. The increased levels of the ghrelin hormone lead to increased appetite and hunger. With the hormones increased, you want to eat something whenever you are awake.
Therefore, besides taking care of your eating habit, quality sleep is also equally important when it comes to controlling your appetite. To do so, make sure you have a constant sleeping schedule and are well-rested with six to eight hours of sleep every night.
Do Not Avoid Regular Meals
Cutting meals in hopes of decreasing your calorie intake and gradually your weight is a very well-known idea. But, do you know, that technique could be why you are gaining weight rather than losing? While restricting meals might work for some, others end up eating much more than normal in the later meal of the day.
Not just fasting, people often skip meals due to their busy schedules. So, for example, if you miss your mid-day lunch, you should not be waiting for your dinner to fill your hungry stomach, where you will be eating a lot more than required.
To prevent that from happening, do not wait for scheduled meal times if you miss one. Instead, grab something healthy to munch on whenever you get time.
The Bottom Line
People who overeat can find themselves at a loss for ways to control their appetites and may struggle to stay healthy. Fortunately, plenty of effective ways to improve your eating habits and overcome eating disorders. Above are some of the most efficient ways to stop overeating by controlling your appetite. Try them and tell us whether they were effective or not!