Avoiding overeating is about more than swapping full cream for low fat milk or sugar for stevia. Often, when we make such swaps, we end up feeling unsatisfied and robbed of flavour, which can lead to overindulgence later in the day.
If you feel that overeating is having a negative impact on your health and happiness, consider the simple swaps below to ensure you feel satisfied and content after every meal.
1. Swap half your treat for a healthy alternative
When you enjoy one of your favourite treats, add some healthy and fibrous fruits or veggies to the mix. Eat these first and then move on to your indulgent treat. It’s far easier to stick to a reasonable portion of chocolate, for example, if your hunger has already been satiated with a fruit salad and plain Greek yogurt.
2. Swap flavoured drinks for ice water
As delicious as they may be, fruit juices, sodas, sweet tea, and other flavored drinks do little to satisfy a rumbling tummy. You’ll likely be just as hungry after consuming flavored drinks, and the sugar, chemicals, and artificial sweeteners certainly aren’t doing you any favours.
Plain old water, by contrast, can actually make you feel more satisfied as we often mistake thirst for hunger. So, get yourself a snazzy water bottle or thermos mug, fill it with ice and water, and sip on it throughout the day. If you want to jazz it up a bit, add fresh mint, cucumber slices, and a splash of citrus juice.
3. Swap mindless munching for mindful eating
As relaxing as it may be to snack mindlessly while watching Netflix, this habit is not helpful for people who struggle with overeating. When you munch mindlessly, you’re completely out of touch with your body’s needs and signals.
Of course, this is a tough habit to break, so start small and work your way up. First, stop snacking and eating meals while working. Once you’ve gotten rid of this habit, cut out eating while reading and snacking while watching TV. Your books and computer will stay cleaner, which is a nice bonus! If you get bored watching TV without snacks, do some light, fun exercises, or ditch TV altogether and find a hobby you genuinely love.
4. Swap poor coping mechanisms for productive ones
Overeating is often a symptom of a deeper issue. It can be anything from work stress to unaddressed trauma or even a physical health condition. To get to the bottom of this, it’s important to start paying attention to what’s going on in your life, what triggers you to overeat, what other symptoms you may be experiencing, and what other coping mechanisms you use.
A great way to get started on this is to write a daily journal. Take note of how you’re feeling, what’s going on in your life, and how you’re approaching your challenges and obligations. It can also help to discuss these things with a trusted family member or friend.
5. Seek professional help instead of trying to manage everything yourself
While the tips above can certainly help you avoid overeating, it’s important to seek professional guidance if you feel out of control when it comes to food. Depending on your unique circumstances, this may mean seeing a psychologist, dietician, or another specialist in the field of health, diet, or eating disorders. If you’re unsure of where to go first, consider making an appointment with your primary care physician for guidance and referrals.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have a strong foundation for developing a healthy relationship with food.