Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals
Sometimes those special occasion feasts are just amazing.
And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.
It could also be that the occasion, like Valentine’s Day, is associated with a particular food (umm can anyone say chocolate?)
It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.
But it doesn’t always stop there.
Maybe it is just dreary out. Or cold and snowy. Where something warm and comforting is all we crave.
Or, we may just overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.
Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.
(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)
Tip #1: Start with some water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.
But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.
Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).
Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?
This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.
Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment, being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.
But how do you do this?
First, check in with your hunger. Assess it. Where is it coming from? Check in with yourself to determine if you have emotional or physical hunger.
Are you currently feeling bored, stressed or sad? Are you craving something sweet? Did your hunger come on rapidly? If you answer yes to these questions, your hunger may be more emotionally than physically driven.
Do you sense a physical hunger which is steadily increasing? Has it been a while since you last ate? Is your stomach grumbling? If you answer yes to these questions, your hunger may be more physically driven.
Eating mindfully is about focusing more on fulfilling physical hunger needs. If you find that more of your hunger is emotional hunger, take a moment to journal about it. Understanding what is driving emotional eating is an important step to resolving it.
Mindful eating can be accomplished by eating slower, taking smaller bites, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful. With each bite, notice and appreciate the smell, taste, and texture of the food you are consuming.
How can this prevent overeating? Eating slower often means eating less because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. When you eat quickly, your brain hasn’t caught up with your consumption.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Tip #3: Start with the salad
You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.
But don’t start there.
(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).
Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.
Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They’re “satiating.”
And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.
Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas
If you’re not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:
Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer. If using fresh berries, you can press them a little in the water to help release the flavor. If you let them sit for 30 minutes, or even overnight, you will get a more infused flavor.
Metabolism. You may know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?
Your body is comprised of a series of biochemical reactions. It is an amazing machine that takes in nutrients and oxygen and uses them to fuel everything you do. The word “metabolism” actually describes all those biochemical reactions that an organism, in this case, you, need to live. It’s three main purposes are to: help convert fuel for use in cellular processes, provide building blocks for cell growth and healing, and for elimination processes.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
-Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
-Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heartbeat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
-Allow storage of excess energy for later.
When you put all of these processes together to form your metabolism, sometimes they can work too quickly, too slowly, or (ideally) just right.
Which brings us to the “metabolic rate.”
This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in kilocalories, or more commonly abbreviated to just “calories.”
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
-Fuel physical activity (i.e. work, exercise, and other activities).
-Fuel for biochemical reactions in your body to exist.
-Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).
As you can imagine, the more calories you burn as fuel for activities or biochemical processes, the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how many calories your body needs just to perform the basic functions to live like your heartbeat, moving your blood through your body, fueling your lungs to breath. Imagine what your body needs to function while you lie in bed without any physical activity; this is your RMR.
Now imagine you get up, go to work, hit an exercise class and later return to bed. Just like a car, your body needed more fuel for those activities. This is where the other energy expenditure measurement comes in. The “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) includes both the resting metabolic rate (RMR) or what you need to just exist AND includes the calories you need to actually function, work or exercise over the course of a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
More than you can imagine!
Age, gender, and body size all play a role. But it isn’t just about size, what is also crucial is body composition.
As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.
Sometimes when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.
Speaking of exercise, physical activity is also important.
Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work.”
When people have a hard time losing weight, sometimes they will wonder if their thyroid is operating properly. The thyroid gland is located at the front of your throat and releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn. If the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, your metabolism will be impacted. This is a great example of how a hormonal imbalance can impact metabolism.
Other factors which can impact your metabolism might include genetics; environmental changes such as heat or cold variances; certain medications and even dietary intake.
Yes, the type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example, increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off. However, be mindful. This is not an excuse to eat only proteins. Too much protein can actually be tough on your kidneys.
Last, but not least, don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows stress and sleep have an influence as well.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breast
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old
Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs, and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more roasted, then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!
Our bodies are comprised of 50-70% water. A reduction of as little as 1-2% of our body water can result in cognitive issues and increased fatigue. The heat of the summer will drive water losses through sweat, and even more with exercise, all of which can lead to dehydration. So what can you do to make sure you are covered this summer?
Infused water is easy to make and one of my favorite things to do. I typically will toss some fruit or berries into one or more largemouth mason jars and let them infuse overnight, so I am ready for the morning. I like watermelon and basil or mint; slices of grapefruit or blood orange; cucumber, mint and a slice of lime; or just simple lemon water. At a minimum, you will want the mixture to infuse for 3-4 hours. If you are looking for further inspiration, Wellness Mama has some great recipes for this! https://wellnessmama.com/3607/herb-fruit-infused-water/
If you engage in summer exercise, hydration is especially important. But instead of drinking down an athletic drink, which can have 34 grams of sugar (almost as much as a 12 oz soda) and is full of food coloring, why not try one of these healthier alternatives?
When you think of oregano, maybe a good tomato sauce comes to mind. While that is certainly a good use for it, oregano also has antibacterial, antifungal and analgesic properties which shouldn’t be overlooked.
This time of year it seems like everyone is picking up a little bug, or in some cases even the flu. Although I haven’t broken out this recipe yet for myself this year, I have used it in the past when I’ve felt like I was beginning to get sick.
It is really quite easy:
-9 teaspoons of fresh oregano chopped
-24 ounces of boiling water
*Optional Additions Include:
– a clove of garlic
– red pepper flakes
You can put the oregano in an infuser, or just into the cup itself and pour the boiling water over it. Let steep for 20 minutes and then sip.
If you’re like me, you love to eat chocolate. But not just any chocolate — I eat the varieties that are often referred to as “superfoods.” I’m talking about dark chocolate and cocoa nibs, which are both truly healthy forms of chocolate if you pick the right products. You’re probably thinking how is dark chocolate good for you, and in general, is chocolate good for you? Well, I’m about to tell you all about dark chocolate and how the benefits of dark chocolate are definitely for real.
The average American consumes roughly 12 pounds of chocolate each year, and over $75 billion is spent annually worldwide on chocolate. (1) There is a lot of chocolate eating going on regularly, which is why I want to help you make the smart, healthy choice. That way you can have your chocolate without guilt and with health benefits of dark chocolate to boot!
Chocolate lovers rejoice when the benefits of antioxidants found in chocolate are talked about, but it’s important to realize that not all chocolate is created equal, not even close. The potential health benefits of processed, highly sweetened chocolate are slim to none, but the health benefits of dark chocolate are numerous and quite impressive.
As a preventive cardiologist, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says, “When looking for a sweet snack, a square of dark chocolate might, in fact, be your healthiest choice!” (2) Let’s look at exactly why this expert medical opinion really does ring true and why a little dark chocolate is more than just a tasty treat — with health benefits of dark chocolate that include protection against disease and improved brain and heart health.
1. Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals
One of my favorite benefits of dark chocolate is its free radical fighting ability. Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, especially those that fight against environmental toxins we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Antioxidants are the compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage.
Antioxidants include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals — helpful plant compounds. One of dark chocolate’s most impressive attributes is its high antioxidant content, which is why it made my list of top 10 high-antioxidant foods.
Two groups of antioxidants prevalent in dark chocolate are flavonoids and polyphenols. Dark chocolate’s cocoa has actually been shown to have the highest content of polyphenols and flavonoids, even greater than wine and tea. (3) So the higher the cacao/cocoa percentage of your next dark chocolate bar, the more awesome antioxidants you’ll consume. Read Full Article