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Warmer weather, more time spent outside, backyard potluck bbq, a few cold drinks, (you get the idea). And if you are like me, eating to keep my hormones balanced at these gatherings/parties/barbecues/picnics can be tricky and usually leads to overeating.
And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the conversations, the decorations, and the ambiance that lull you into just one more piece of chicken, a bit more macaroni salad, one more dessert or one more drink. Before you know it, you need your stretchy pants (we actually call them buffet pants) and a nap.
It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days. Added to that, unless you ask for every recipe and keep track of every single thing, you will never know exactly how much you did eat. And who wants to sit at a bbq with friends and write down everything you are putting on your plate? Kinda takes the fun out of it. No?
But it doesn’t always stop there.
Sometimes we 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
I can hear you groaning and saying “REALLY?” Yes, really.
Every time I give someone that piece of wisdom, the response is generally “Ya, I know that already”, my response back is “That’s great! But are you doing it?” SILENCE
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.
Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.
So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
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”.
So don’t wait until the end of the meal to eat your veggies. Eat them all and throughout the meal. If you get full before you are finished, it just means a doggie bag to take home and enjoy tomorrow with whatever veggies you add. 😉
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
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.