Most of you know my style of advice and coaching. I don’t believe rigid meal plans are useful for the general population and don’t give them to my clients; don’t believe in programs where everyone gets advised to eat the same amount of food and put it in a plastic container; and certainly don’t believe in counting calories. These things are not normal, and they are certainly not sustainable.
A healthy relationship with food is really what we’re craving. We want to be able to sit down, eat some wholesome and delicious food, and feel good about ourselves after we’re done. We want to feel peace around food. We want to feel sane. We want to feel like we are nourished, and we want to feel alive!
These tips to avoid overeating are practical. I put the first and third tip into place three years ago, and it’s automatic now. Automatic feels fabulous! The second tip — being present with my food — is something I’ve been doing very consistently for about a year. It’s been one of the most rewarding of all the health habits I’ve made. As a woman who’s lost 80 pounds and changed so many habits, that’s a big statement!
#1 Don’t Get Too Hungry.
Famished. Starving. Dying to eat. Raging hunger. Gotta have something now. Hangry. DON’T LET YOURSELF GET THERE.
On a scale of 1 – 10, where 1 = starving and 10 = Thankgiving stuffed, stay above a “3.” If you do, you’ll eat whatever is around and/or you’ll eat way more than you need.
TIP: Think of your day. What time(s) during the day do you typically feel starving? Subtract 1-2 hours and add a snack.
TIP: Remember to stay hydrated, as mild dehydration is one of the most common reasons for sudden, uncontrollable hunger.
TIP: Every meal and snack should have fiber so you don’t “crash.” Fiber comes from fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. A coffee drink is not a snack.
#2 Be 100% Present.
It turns out you CAN fool your brain. When you’re not paying attention to each bite of food, you’re not fully registering all that you eat.
Do not distract yourself with TV, your iPhone, your iPad, reading a magazine or a book, making a list, or even worse — working, or eating while standing up and doing chores. You are cheating yourself from a pleasurable eating experience, and you are not conscious about how much you’re eating.
TIP: Keep your kitchen table clear at all times. (Find somewhere else to dump your belongings if you must.) Sit down. Eat your meal slower than normal. No distractions. So many people look at their empty dish and say, “oh, wow, did I finish already?!” Don’t be one of them!
#3 Stop Eating When You’re 80% Full.
Don’t eat until you’re full. Leave some room. If you eat until you’re full, you’re eating more than you need. Can you imagine if you ate a few less bites every night at dinner, it would be so easy for your pants to fit you just right for the entire year?!
At your next meal (where you’ll be 100% present with your food), notice when you’d rate yourself about 80% full. Here’s another analogy: stop eating when you still have enough energy to go for a light walk or do some chores.
You know that feeling of being stuffed after a meal? How do you feel? Lethargic. Lazy. Dare I say fat? Bloated? No one wants to feel that way. Take a few less bites. You’ll feel satisfied and still have energy. Those few bites you save, meal after meal, will save you calories.
TIP: Put a little bit less in your dish next time. You can always go back to get a little bit more, but it’s likely you won’t need to.
So often, when I started doing this a few years ago, I would have a few spoonfuls of chili left; a couple more bites of oatmeal; a couple bites of chicken. I started re-purposing it — like putting the chili in a bowl for later, saving the rest for a snack, etc. What I learned was to put less on my plate to begin with.