Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

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:

  • Slices of lemon & ginger
  • Slices of strawberries & orange
  • Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
  • Chopped pineapple & mango
  • Blueberries & raspberries
  • Blueberries, raspberries, a sprig of mint and even a splash of lemon or lime juice

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.