In a perfect world we would all have excellent portion control. We would never over indulge or eat more food than we need. But in our world of giant portions and super sized everything, this is MUCH easier said than done, isn’t it? Over the past 15 years of being a personal trainer, I’ve compiled a few “tricks of the trade” that I’ve shared with my clients to help them stop mindlessly overeating. Today I want to share with YOU my 6 Tips to avoid overeating!
A few deliberate steps can make all the difference in making progress on your fitness goals or continuing to be frustrated with yourself for not doing better. Sometimes it’s all about the set-up. It’s not about being perfect all the time. It’s about becoming more aware and being more conscious of your habits. We need to get you off of “auto-pilot” when it comes to food so you can make better choices. These are tips that I hope you will incorporate into your daily routine. I know they’ll make a difference and help you avoid overeating!
Never Completely Clean Your Plate
For many of us, the message to “clean your plate” goes way back to early childhood. Many well meaning parents and grandparents just wanted to make sure we were eating enough. But that message can be a double-edged sword as an adult. Far too many of us still have the subconscious habit of needing to see our plates completely clean after a meal even when we could’ve stopped eating long before.
This habit of cleaning your plate is very subtle and has probably been there for decades. You will need to become VERY conscious to leave a little food on the plate for this habit to be undone. I want to challenge you to leave at least a few bites on your plate. If your frugal mind calls this wasteful, well so be it. It will teach you to start putting less food on your plate to begin with!
Use Salad Plates and Smaller Bowls
The idea of using small plates and bowls is ALL psychology. When you use a salad plate instead of a full sized dinner plate it can appear that you have way more food than you actually have. The illusion of the plate being full makes your mind think you’re getting more food. It’s all smoke and mirrors but it totally works!
The next time you eat cereal, grab a tiny bowl instead of a large bowl and you’ll automatically have built-in portion control. I personally do this and it really works. You feel more satisfied and again your mind registers the amount of food as “enough.” It’s really a cool trick, give it a shot!
Decline the Chip or Bread Basket at the Restaurant
I don’t know if it’s this way where you live, but here in Dallas, most sit-down restaurants will automatically bring you a basket of chips or bread and sit it right in front of you! Holy crap, how tempting is that? Obviously you’re hungry, so it would take some SERIOUS willpower not to stick your hand in there.
In this situation willpower isn’t strong enough for most people. Just do yourself a huge favor and don’t even let the waitstaff put it on the table. If they’ve already left it, ask them to take it away! It’s not being rude. It’s removing a giant carb-loaded time bomb from your life. Plus, who needs to eat a ton of bread or chips before your meal even gets there? Stop the madness and just avoid this situation all together. You will thank me later.
Slow Down and Really Chew Your Food
Eating should not be a race, people! Everyone is so damn busy these days, that even when you’re not technically in a hurry most people just eat way too fast. First of all, this can very easily lead to overeating because it can take a good 15 -20 minutes before your brain really registers that you’re full. Secondly, you can’t truly enjoy your food when you gulp it down. The sad thing is that most people are unaware of how fast they’re eating.
Slow. Your. Ass. Down! Before you even take one bite, just look at your food. Take a deep breath. Smell the food. Give thanks for it. Actually think about the food as you’re eating instead of being distracted with a ton of conversation. All of these tiny steps will bring a consciousness to your eating. You will appreciate the food more. You will know when you start to feel satisfied and will be able to draw the line and not overindulge. I’m sure if you’ve spent any time in European countries you became keenly aware that we Americans just don’t get the slow food idea. I think the Europeans can teach us a thing or two about slow living and certainly slow eating!
Never Go to a Party Hungry
This idea is certainly great for holidays but it’s really handy year round. I’ve been telling my clients for years to never go to parties or events hungry. Why? Because the food being offered is usually not low-calorie fare. Unless it’s a potluck, you’re typically not in control of what’s being served.
The danger of going to a party hungry is definitely OVEREATING! If you don’t eat a little something before you go, by the time you actually eat, you’ll be so hungry that you won’t care what you’re eating! That’s why you never want to get super hungry. You won’t make the best choices, trust me on this.
My advice is to eat some protein such as a hard-boiled egg, a string cheese or maybe a little smoked turkey. This won’t fill you up completely but will take the edge off your hunger. You will be starting from a better position once you reach the event to make good choices once you get there.
Brush your teeth or chew gum immediately after eating
This tip is for those of us with a sweet tooth. If you crave something sweet right after a meal, try brushing your teeth or chewing some minty gum immediately after eating. I can assure you that your craving for anything sweet will be GONE! It’s such a simple solution but truly does help you say “no” to desserts and treats you’re trying to avoid. I’ve also found that brushing with baking soda instead of a sweet toothpaste really takes this idea up a notch. Every little bit helps, right?
So there you have it! Let’s recap my 6 Tips to Avoid Overeating:
- Never completely clean your plate
- Use small plates and bowls
- Decline the chip and bread basket at a restaurant
- Slow down and really chew your food
- Never go to a party of event hungry
- Brush your teeth or chew minty gum immediately after a meal
I hope you enjoyed these tips today! Please leave me a comment and let me know if you already do any of these things. I would LOVE to know!
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