Have you ever noticed that babies are born knowing when they are hungry,
and when they aren’t?
Try feeding a baby who has decided he’s full and you’ll see what I mean!
Babies don’t need any tips on how to stop overeating. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. They’ll push the bottle away with a frown and shake their head, almost like telling us, “I’m satisfied, enough already!” Well, somewhere along the line, that innate ability to control our overeating goes haywire and we’ve become a nation of overeaters. We can blame it on everything from advertising to addiction, but the truth is we all overeat at times. How do we control it? Well, for all of us who aren’t babies, here is something that might help. Use my 6 P’s to help you stop overeating and regain control of your health (and your plate) again.
The 6 P’s to Stop Overeating
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve stuffed my face beyond where I should have on many an occasion, and most of those times it was because I had absolutely no plan. Planning your meals ahead of time, weekly or monthly (or at least daily) assures that you aren’t eating random things at random times. Planning also keeps you on track with your grocery budget and helps make sure you are getting your nutritional needs. Overeating is very common when you leave your meal planning to chance, so prepare up front and you’ll be less likely to give in to impulse eating.
Overeating every once in a while won’t hurt us, but it can become chronic if we ignore the cues to stop when we are full. Our minds can play tricks on us when it comes to food. Mentally preparing ahead of time can help, mainly by identifying some of the cues that cause us to overeat in the first place. Cues can be external or internal. Examples of eternal cues to stop eating are “when my lunch hour ends”, “when the bag of chips is gone”, or “when the waiter takes my plate away”. An internal cue would be to stop “when I’m full”.
When you are mentally prepared for the effect that external cues have on your eating habits, you can make those cues work for you. Here are some examples:
- If you tend to eat until the whole plate is clean, use smaller dishes or ask a restaurant to “doggie bag” half of your dish before they serve it to your table.
- If you can’t seem to stop eating until you reach the bottom of that bag of chips, transfer a limited quantity into serving size baggies ahead of time and eat from the smaller bag.
- If you are likely to grab the easiest thing in the fridge, place the healthier stuff in the front, so at least if you overdo it, at least it’s with good food.
Over the years Americans have been affected by portion distortion, and we are notoriously bad at estimating just how much a serving size should be. You don’t have to necessarily deprive yourself of foods you like, but if you’re trying to stop overeating, you’ll need to learn portion control. Learning to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day is a great way to get portion sizes to work for you, by helping to stabilize your metabolism, avoid fluctuations in blood sugar levels, and keep you from stuffing your face when dinnertime comes.
Surround yourself with a social circle of gluttonous over-indulgers and chances are you’ll soon be one of them. Conversely, plugging-in with a bunch of people who are like-minded in their health goals can offer the support you need to succeed. Changing habits is not easy, and trying to go it alone, especially where food is concerned, can make it more challenging than ever. So why not enlist the support of family and friends, or join an official group who can keep you accountable and offer encouragement at the same time? There’s a reason that organizations like Beachbody® offer free coaching and an invitation to challenge groups with every workout program sold. Social support works!
Changing to healthier habits won’t happen overnight, especially since we’ve been conditioned to overeat at pretty much every meal. It will take practice to begin new routines and actually learn to make them a habit. You may not get it right the first (or second, or third) time, but keep up your efforts and even small changes can help you get better at recognizing your eating patterns. From there you can develop strategies that work for you, to stop overeating. Exercise helps, of course, too, by not only taking your mind off the food for a while, but also working off some of those extra calories. Whether it’s your eating habits or your exercise, practice makes you consistent, and consistency brings success.
Consistency is the key to reaching goals in any part of your life. It keeps you focused, and when you are trying to curb your overeating habits, focus is vital. So once you incorporate a plan, prepare for external cues, learn to eat the right portions, plug-in to supportive people, and practice good strategies for better health, you’re ready to put this last “P” on autopilot and repeat, repeat, repeat. In no time, you’ll be empowered to take back control of what’s on your plate and how much of it you’ll eat at each sitting!
To your success and beyond,