If you aren't careful you can easily pack on extra pounds due to overeating without thinking about it. Most of our overeating habits are subconscious, and take a bit of effort to fix. If you have struggled with overeating there are several things you can try which will help you stay full and reduce the chance that you'll have too many portions.
Tip #1 - Try to stay full throughout the day
You've heard it before but you should try to eat several small meals throughout the day, or if you have a bigger lunch and dinner have a few small snacks in between to curb your appetite. When you balance your meals out throughout the day you won't be famished at any meal. The hungrier you are the greater the chance that you may overeat.
Tip #2 - Cook just one serving
When you cook for yourself you should try to limit the amount of food you cook to one serving, especially if you struggle with portion control. It may take a little more effort because you'll have to cook more often, but you won't have to worry about eating too many portions at once. You can also cook multiple servings and refrigerate or freeze the meal in one portion servings.
Tip #3 - Control your portion sizes
When you aren't cooking try to be conscious about your portion sizes. Try to find out how many calories are in each portion, but if you can't then try to guess. It's more important to control portions when the dish is carb heavy, but if you're eating just protein or vegetables you can afford to be more generous with portion sizes.
Tip #4 - Use a smaller plate
Using a smaller plate to serve your meals is very helpful for limiting overeating. When you use a larger plate you will subconsciously fill it up to its capacity without thinking about the number of calories you're eating. You may end up serving yourself several portions more than what you need for a meal, especially if it is rich in carbohydrates. To avoid this, try to use a small plate as much as possible.
Tip #5 - Eat slowly
We discussed the benefits of eating slowly in detail in a previous article, but to summarize it, if you eat more slowly your brain will have an adequate amount of time to register that you have eaten and there will be less of a chance that you'll stuff yourself too quickly. There is a delay of approximately 15 to 20 minutes from your first bite to the time that your brain registers that you've had too much to eat.
Tip #6 - Pick the right foods
Foods that are high in protein and healthy fats are always a better option that carbohydrate dense foods. Foods that are carbohydrate rich will give you an initial rush of energy followed by a large drop off because they are digested so quickly. Anything you don't use right away is also converted into fat. Protein and fat are broken down much more slowly and will keep you full for several hours after your meal.
Also, there is no doubt that it is far better to eat too many vegetables than it is to eat too many grains or starches, so try to include vegetables into your recipes as much as you can, and try to avoid meals that don't have fresh fruit or vegetables.
Tip #7 - Savor the first few bites
The first few bits of your meal are the most flavorful, after those few bites your taste buds become less sensitive to the chemicals in your food. So, if you eat slowly as previously mentioned you should take even a few more seconds to enjoy the first few bites of your meal.
Tip #8 - Snack often
When you can't have a full meal you should have a wide range of different healthy snacks available so that you aren't starving when it does come time for a real meal. Foods like nuts, dried fruit or fresh fruit, vegetables, hummus, low fat string cheese, yogurt, and other healthy and ready to eat foods are all good snacking options that are high in protein and fiber and will help stabilize your blood sugar and hunger levels. You can bring foods like dried fruit and nuts along with you whenever you go. Remember that the less hungry you are when you eat, the more likely that you won't overeat.
Tip #9 - Always eat breakfast
Breakfast is an incredibly important meal, and studies have shown that people who skip breakfast and start their work day on an empty stomach end up eating more during lunch and dinner to compensate. This is never a good thing, especially considering the fact that your body will store the extra calories as fat whenever you overeat, and that your metabolism will take a hit when you skip breakfast.
To ensure that you always eat breakfast, try preparing a quick meal before you go to bed, since many people don't have time to cook a full breakfast in the morning. You can always have a piece of fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, cold hard boiled eggs, and many other ready to eat foods ready to go for breakfast.
With that in mind, there's no reason why you should skip it, and you should try to eat breakfast even when you're not hungry because the chances are that you will be hungry before lunch. If you really can't stomach eating breakfast very early, take your meal with you and eat it at work when you do get hungry.
Tip #10 - Pick foods that are high in water content
This is probably the most important tip - you should try to eat as many foods as you can that have a high water content. Fruits and vegetables are high in water and fiber compared to protein and carbohydrate rich foods, and the water content and fiber content of these foods will fill you up without adding extra calories. Also be sure to drink enough water throughout the day and when you eat, especially if you have a meal that is rich in protein, and we have previously discussed the many benefits of drinking enough water (a half gallon to a gallon) each day.
To get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, always have a supply of your favorite fresh fruit available. Try to eat fresh fruit as much as possible instead of dried fruit which doesn't have the water content and can be high in sugar in large quantities. Also, try to add fresh vegetables into your meals whenever you can; even if you splurge and eat something like a pizza you can always add vegetables like fresh spinach, red onions and tomatoes to make the pizza more filling and healthier, and reduce the chance that you'll have too many pieces.