We’re all guilty of it from time to time: overeating. Sometimes it’s just too easy to grab that packet of biscuits or pig out on a Big Mac with fries and once you’ve had one it can be even harder to resist next time you pass a fast-food outlet. So, how the heck do you stop? And what makes us do it in the first place?
Stress is the number one culprit, so if it’s an issue with you, take steps to destress your life as much as you can. In addition to triggering a chemical reaction in your body that makes you want to eat more, it also has other health implications. Read some articles and techniques about how to deal with stress and teach yourself not to “sweat” on the small stuff. Most problems that seem huge at the time fade into insignificance given time.
Deep breathing and meditation can help you chill out and go with the flow. Regular exercise is also important because it releases healthy endorphins.
We humans are creatures of habit and when you are used to overeating, it becomes a habit, one that is hard to break. When we eat too much food and the wrong sort of food our bodies become used to the unhealthy salt, fat and sugar in processed foods and will crave these foods. You have to toughen up here and shut them out of your diet as much as you can. Buy multigrain food instead of white bread and eat plenty of fresh and natural foods. Read the labels on what you buy and avoid foods high in salt, fat and sugar – however good they look.
Hand in hand with changing your diet, make yourself eat regular meals. If you’ve had a good, healthy, filling breakfast you are less likely to feel like pigging out at lunch. If you think you might cave in, make sure you have healthy snacks like almonds (unsalted) and granny smith apples to hand to satisfy any hunger pangs. If you fill yourself up with the right kind of food, you will feel full and won’t crave the wrong kind quite as much.
Eat slowly and savour what you eat. It takes a while for your stomach to tell your brain you’re full so if you stuff your food down too fast there can be a time lag during which you continue to eat even though you do not need the food.
Other tips are to eat sitting down, and use smaller plates and bowls so you don’t put more on them just because there is room.
New studies have just shown that a lack of sleep can actually make you ill, because your body just doesn’t have enough time to repair itself. Research has also shown that not getting enough sleep can cause your brain to send out signals to areas connected with appetite. So make sure you do what you can to ensure you sleep well. Make sure your room is dark and quiet and try and watch TV in another room. If your brain associates your bedroom with sleep, it makes it easier for you to fall asleep. Some electronic devices also release blue light which can make your brain think it is still daytime.
You also cannot feel cravings when you’re asleep!
We all know too much alcohol is bad for us, but did it know a high intake of alcohol will increase your blood sugar? Your body in response produces insulan to lower your blood sugar, which in turn increases your appetite and, hey presto, before you know it you are overeating.
The answer is pretty obvious: drink in moderation.
Sometimes we can overeat simply because we are bored and it’s something to do. The answer to closing off this particular trap is obvious: keep yourself busy. Exercise, take up new activities or start a new hobby.
If we cannot access the food, we cannot eat it. So get rid of all the stuff in your fridge and cupboard that you know might lead you into temptation. Yes, this may mean visitors and other family members miss out on treats they love, but it will be good for them too.
Forget crash diets because they don’t work. Instead, look on making a healthy lifestyle change that you and your partner and family can sustain long term.
What’s your own diet like, and how do you avoid overeating? Or do you fall off the wagon occasionally?