Are You Overeating?

Are we overeating? (Alessandro Valli/Flickr)
Are we overeating? (Alessandro Valli/Flickr)

Over the past year of working with people who typically struggle with their weight, I noticed a trend. There are six basic problems that cause people to eat more than they need to.

Downfall No.1: Too much snacking

Just because you are a twinge hungry, bored, thirsty, or tired does not mean that you need a snack. Snacks are for when you are very hungry, but will not get to eat within the hour, so you need a little something to tide you over.

However, many people have gotten used to snacking on chips, popcorn, nuts, cheese, or fruit even when they are not particularly hungry.

If this sounds like you, clean your pantry of convenient snack foods. Opt to rest when tired, or you need a break, before turning to food. Find non-food related nourishing activities to reduce stress, and be sure to get enough water and exercise throughout your day.

Downfall No.2: Mealtime magpies

Mealtime magpies prefer to see everything finished up rather than see food go into the bin, but by making a habit of picking, mealtime magpies will certainly be overeating. Get used to putting less on your plate, chewing more thoroughly, and put leftover food away for another meal.

By chronically cleaning your plate, despite the serving size, and taking tastes from your kids, friends, spouses, etc., you will inevitably get into the habit of overeating!

If this sounds like you, be sure to chew more, stay mindful while eating, and put away leftovers without picking as soon as you feel satisfied, not full.

Downfall No.3: Partying

Eating, drinking, and merriment lead to extreme caloric intake.

But alcohol and the food that often accompanies partying is highly caloric. Instead, limit your alcohol intake, drink more water, be aware of the high caloric count of alcohol and typical pub food. The following day, plan on eating lots of greens, re-hydrating with lots of water, and getting fresh air.

Downfall No.4: Low-fat products

Low-fat dressing, butter replacements, desserts, cream cheese, etc. are much less satisfying, and studies show that people who indulge in these products eat 50 percent more than people using the full-fat alternative.

So rather than going “lite” go real. Eat real oil, butter, and cheese, just be mindful of not eating too much of it.

Downfall No.5: One-meal wonder

People who go the whole day without eating tend to eat more when they finally do eat because at that point, they are starving. If you allow yourself to get too hungry before you eat, it is hard to make healthier, moderate choices.

Plus, going long periods of time tend to slow the metabolism, making it even more difficult to digest all that food.

So be sure to start your day on the right foot by eating when you are hungry, but before you are so starving that you could eat a horse! Plan ahead by throwing in some portable snacks (such as a small bag of nuts or seeds, a piece of fruit, or a small container of yogurt) into your bag so you are never left starving and stranded.

Downfall No.6: Emotional eating

Let’s face it, eating is fun, sometimes naughty, and definitely numbing. If you notice that you often compulsively eat, then take a deep breath and a good hard look at what you are not facing.

It may be something big (i.e., I just got fired or my dog died), or it may be the little things in life that build up and drive you to the… ice cream. Perhaps you are tired, or bored, or sad, or angry.

Whatever it is, you must build the tools to cope with the daily stresses in life, or you will find yourself chronically coping with health sabotaging habits.

Tysan Lerner is a certified health coach and personal trainer. She helps women attain their body and beauty goals without starving themselves, or spending hours at the gym. Her website is www.lavendermamas.com

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