How many times have you told yourself, “I’m only going to have one chip (or cracker or cookie),” just to find yourself, moments later, peering into an empty bag wondering why you don’t have any self-control? Or what about the times you sit down to a meal and decide that you’re going to only eat half, but before you know it you’re scraping your fork or spoon along the bottom of the plate to get every last morsel of food on it, leaving you so full that you’re actually uncomfortable?
Let’s face it—overeating is definitely overly easy to do. So what can you do to help you avoid this bothersome behavior so that you feel better about yourself and fit more comfortably in your clothing? Just follow these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to eating less and smiling more.
Pre-portion your portions
If you’re like most people, it’s difficult to portion your food once it is in front of you. Therefore, you’re much further ahead if you portion your food before it hits your plate or bowl by using measuring cups to ensure the sizes are correct. However, if this isn’t an option because you’re eating out or not at home, WebMD also has a handy, wallet-size portion guide that you can print and take with you wherever you go.
Sometimes, just the act of being mentally present when you eat is enough to stop you from overdoing it. By paying attention to the foods as you put them in your body, your mind is able to recognize the fact that you’ve actually eaten. You also tend to notice when you’re feeling full quicker and easier. This means turning off the television and eating in a quiet, distraction-free place. It will probably feel weird at first, but you’ll get used to it. In fact, you might even end up liking it!
Allow yourself treats
While this tip may seem counterintuitive, giving yourself the right to have foods you love that aren’t necessarily good for you can actually keep you on track because it prevents feelings of deprivation. College News recommends setting aside specific days to enjoy your treats. Depending on your lifestyle and goal, this could be once a week, once every two weeks, or whatever suits you best. If you go for once a week, opt for Sunday as your “treat” day. It’ll make transitioning back into the work week much less painful.
Figure out why you’re “hungry”
The word hungry is in quotations because oftentimes we find ourselves eating not because we’re physically hungry, but because we are emotionally hungry. We’re bored, tired, stressed, sad, frustrated, or some other emotion that makes us feel bad, sending us in search of the foods that provide us comfort or peace. Recognizing these emotions is the first step to stopping the emotional eating cycle. The next step is finding non-food ways to deal with these feelings, which is the only way you can handle them effectively anyway—food can never solve a non-food issue.
Another way to stop yourself from sitting and overeating mindlessly is to find a way to distract yourself when you know that you’re vulnerable to overdoing it with food. Health.com suggests that 10 minutes is enough to do the trick. So, go for a walk or call a friend. You could also do something with your hands that will keep you from eating at the same time, like painting your nails or typing.
Look, we all overeat sometimes, but use these five tips and those times will surely decrease—as will your pant size.