Whether you’re trying to lose weight or to curb a binge-eating habit, addressing the issue of overeating is the first step to taking control of your health again. The bodily changes will follow, but your mental transformation is most important – and that transformation doesn’t come by way of quick-fixes.
If you’re serious about tackling your tendency to overeat, then it’s time to make lasting (and most importantly, natural) changes to your lifestyle. We’ve put 6 of the best tips and tricks together to guide you on your way.
1. Encourage healthy eating from a young age
For many, this tip may come too late – especially if you’re a parent, though, it’s an important one to heed. Longitudinal research has proven time and again that people who grow up on a diet of whole foods and fresh produce continue the healthy theme on into adulthood (and so, in turn, through the generations). That’s why it’s so vital to encourage healthy eating from the earliest possible opportunity, by making fruits and veggies the norm in the pantry, and by limiting access to processed foods.
2. Identify your triggers
The vast majority of us will have one thing, or a whole set of things, which compel us to overeat. More often than not, these causes are subconscious – and if they’re left that way, they’re impossible to properly remedy.
Whether you visit a professional psychologist to get to the bottom of your overeating or use a food journal to self-assess, it’s vital to get to the bottom of what’s driving your food issues. Does your eating stem from emotions? Is your current diet lacking in protein to keep you full? Do you not eat enough throughout the day?
3. Mimic the emotion
If we’ve had a shocker of a day, our natural impulse is to do something which makes us happy. Eating does, temporarily, raise levels of serotonin (the “happy hormone”), hence why so many of us run for the chocolate cupboard when we’re feeling low.
However, just as many of us know the guilt that follows the sugar-high. It’s best for you to get your serotonin hit in via other, natural means – and yes, we mean exercise. Swap your block of chocolate for a run outside or a Zumba class with friends, and re-evaluate your need for sweets afterwards.
Much of the time, our bodies read thirst as hunger, hence why multiple weight loss studies have proven that those who drink a glass of water before eating fill up on far less food. Making a habit of hydrating before eating can prove the difference between binging and eating moderately.
5. Make healthy swaps
Take advantage of what mother nature provides, and adapt your diet accordingly. For you, this might mean making food swaps which mean you can eat the same volume, but for fewer calories (for example, swapping chips for baked sweet potatoes). It might also mean swapping out man-made appetite suppressants with natural ones (for example, grapefruit essential oil or chia seeds).
6. Try waiting
When we overeat, we often barely taste the food we’re consuming because we inhale it so quickly. Because our bodies take a few minutes to register that we’re full, we keep going and going until the nasty nausea – and accompanying regret – of indigestion suddenly hits.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time to try some habits that’ll remind you to eat slower. Start by consciously chewing each small mouthful of food twenty times before following. Then, increase the time between each bite: researchers recommend you wait up to 15 seconds before reaching for the fork again.
Author: Allison Hail
Allison is a freelance writer and fitness enthusiast from Wellington, New Zealand. She loves learning new fun, different tricks to incorporate into her daily workouts. Read more of Allison’s work here.