Are YOU an Over-Eater?
Over-eating presents its self in many ways; emotional or comfort eating, over-eating and then starving, using food as reward, grazing, eating large portions, binge eating “out of control eating”, and eating out of boredom or due to ‘cravings’. You may be able to relate to one or more of these situations, however the main issue is how often they are taking place. An individual of a healthy weight may, for example, ‘comfort eat’, however if this comfort eating is only occasional, and the rest of the time they eat healthily, then it may not be affecting their overall weight and health. If however ‘comfort eating’ takes place on a daily basis, sooner or later weight gain will be apparent.
If you’re concerned with over-eating have a read of the following tips:
- Ask Yourself: “On a Scale of 1 to 10, how Hungry am I?”
If 10 is really ‘full’ and 1 is ‘starving’ or ’empty’, aim to eat when you score a 3 or 4; try not let yourself get to 1 or 2 as this could leave to over-eating due to over-hunger. If you score 6 or more then try drinking a glass of water and waiting 10 minutes (your brain can confuse hunger and thirst!). If you are still feeling hungry after this time, and it is not a meal time, then try a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit, yoghurt or small handful of nuts. Eating (and planning for) 3 regular meals a day, in addition to staying hydrated will also help to reduce ‘real’ food cravings i.e. ‘stomach hunger’.
- Keep your hands Occupied.. find a Distraction
If eating becomes an ‘activity’ in addition to 3 regular meals a day, then plan some activities that you enjoy and that you know will keep you occupied, and so keep your mind OFF food. Examples of activities include a phone call to a friend, sewing, reading a book and even the washing up! Distraction is a must to keep ‘head hunger’ at bay.
- Reduce Temptation.. Analyse your Food Cupboards
If high fat/sugar foods are available in the house then you are already exposing yourself to more temptation than is needed. If you know that you comfort eat or binge on biscuits, for example, make sure that these are not kept in the house. Have lower calorie, healthier ‘snack foods’ available such as flavoured rice cakes, home-popped popcorn or vegetable crudités (chopped vegetable sticks) and salsa or hummus. Reducing the number of tempting foods on offer will help you to stay in control of ‘heart hunger’ otherwise known as ’emotional hunger’.
- Portion Control
If you like sweet treats on an evening have a think about portion control. Instead of buying large chocolate bars buy the ‘miniature’ versions instead. Choose the ‘treats’ that are 100 calories or less and then limit your self to 1 or 2 of these maximum a night. Another tip could be to ‘bag up’ your biscuits: buy sandwich bags and at the start of the week put 2 biscuits in 7 bags; this is your weekly allowance and if you have bags left over at the end of the week then bonus, only make up only 6 bags the next week and so forth.
- SLOW down your eating
Your brain takes approximately 20 minutes to realise that you’re eating. This means that if your meal is eaten in less than this time then you maybe left craving second helpings or dessert etc. A simple solution to this is to slow down your eating: put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls and have a glass of water next to you; make a rule that you’re not allowed to finish your meal until the glass of water is finished. If you still can’t slow down on your eating then try having a glass of water or a hot drink after your meal and waiting 10 minutes. Your cravings for a dessert maybe reduced. If they haven’t, try a low calorie hot chocolate drink made with water and a splash of unsweetened almond milk for added indulgence!
- Brush your Teeth or Chew Gum
Making your mouth ‘minty clean’ can help to reduce the desire to eat. If you suffer from bloating though then it may be better to brush your teeth rather than chew gum which can cause air to be swallowed, which leads to bloating.
I really hope these tips help you to stop over-eating on a regular basis – do let me know if you have any more tips!
For more tips, check-out my ‘How to Beat Sugar Cravings’ blog post!