You've got the house to yourself on a Friday night and decide to treat yourself to a bowl of chips, which turns into two bowls, then three. Before you know it - the entire bag is empty and you are left clutching your stomach in regret.
Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Over eating is something many struggle with. Here's a few tips on how you can start taking control of the amount of food you are putting in your body:
#1. Recognize your trigger(s)
This is the most important step in taking control of over eating. When you reflect on what triggers you to over eat, you can start to create strategies to cope with or avoid them.
Reflect on the five W's to help you understand why you over eat.
Who are you with when you over eat?
- Are there certain people who trigger you to over eat?
- Are there certain people who you tend to over eat with?
- I over eat with...
What do you tend to over eat?
- Are there certain foods that seem to trigger you to over eat?
- Salt, sugar, fat?
- I tend to over eat when I am consuming...
When do you tend to over eat?
- At what time of the day are you most likely to over eat?
- Are there certain situations where you tend to over eat?
- I am most likely to over eat when.....
Where do you tend to over eat?
- Do you over eat at home? Or when you are dining out?
- I am most likely to over eat at....
Why do you tend to over eat?
- Is there something that causes your over eating like fatique, emotions or stress?
- I over eat because...
These are your triggers. Now the real question is: what can you do to cope with them? For example, if you know that stress causes you to over eat, then what are some strategies you can implement to better deal with stress, like yoga or a long walk? Or if you tend to always over eat at night before bed, how can you change up your bedtime routine to avoid this happening?
#2. Don't let yourself get over hungry.
Letting yourself get over hungry sets you up to binge. If you want to avoid over eating, then do NOT let yourself get over hungry. When we get over hungry, our blood sugar drops and we start feeling stressed, anxious and irritable. We are also more likely to eat any thing that passes in front of us, whether it is good for us or not.
So be proactive and have a snack or meal before that insane, intense hunger sets in. Be prepared. You are much more likely to make healthier decisions at this point before it is too late. I find it helpful to eat a satisfying, filling breakfast and also to eat at regular intervals so you aren't going longer than 3 hours between snacks or meals.
Meal planning is the BEST way to stay organized. More on how we are helping with that here.
#3. Do not restrict your intake
This goes hand-in-hand with not letting yourself get over hungry. Many people think that the best way to lose weight is to restrict your intake. But this is so not true.
Starving and depriving yourself is not sustainable and can really mess up your hormones. Not to mention, sends your body into a frenzy of hunger, which usually leads to binge eating. So instead of making yourself miserable in hunger, just eat healthy! It is so much easier and way more enjoyable.
#4. Treat yo'self!
We are firm believers in treating yourself every now and then. So go ahead and have that slice of pizza or ice cream cone. It helps make healthy habits more enjoyable and sustainable. But note that there is a very big difference between treating yourself and over eating. So indulge in moderation and be mindful of the slippery slope!
#5. Prioritize sleep
It has been proven that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. We're eating when we should be sleeping and being tired causes us to crave junk food. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times: Sleep is so important! I know that sometimes it feels like there is never enough hours in the day but sacrificing sleep can have a huge impact on your overall health. So start making sleep a priority.
#6. Drink lots of water
As humans, we often have difficulties distinguishing the difference between our hunger and thirst. Dehydration causes us to think we need to eat when really we need to drink. The best way to fight this is to not let yourself get dehydrated! Some tips for ensuring you get plenty of fluids on a daily basis:
- Infuse your water with things like lemon, cucumber and mint
- Keep a 1L water bottle on the go and try to drink at least 2 per day
- Start every day with a large glass of water so that you are fuelled up in case you get busy later on
#7. Break a sweat
High-intensity exercise may actually decrease food cravings, according to this study by the International Journal of Obesity. Not to mention, it's a great way to reduce stress, improve mood and increase sleep quality - all common triggers of over eating.
#8. Give yourself time and be mindful
Sometimes we eat so fast our bodies don't have time to tell our brains that we are full! Eat slowly and mindfully so your body has a chance to recognize when it's full. Before reaching for seconds, give your body at least 15 minutes to figure out what it really wants.
#9. Avoid sugar
This one is a toughie. Trust me, I know. I was once a complete sugar addict. Eating sugar only makes you want to eat more sugar, which is obviously a recipe for over eating. There is no easy way to end your sugar addiction. It takes strength and willpower. But once you do, you will find you over eat less and feel much more in control.
#10. Get help
There is a big difference between over eating, treating yourself and binge eating. For many, the struggle with binge eating and food addiction is very real. Binge eating is a disorder where you eat unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop. Often it is not a problem you can solve on your own nor will it just go away on its own. If this is the case, do not be afraid to seek professional help. Check out the Binge Eating Disorder Association for more info.