Be Mindful: Tips and Tricks to Avoid Overeating

Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 9:49am
Senior Clinical Dietitian

Summertime is right around the corner and with it comes the potential to overindulge in food and drink. Between family get-togethers, with their spread of delicious foods, and the call of the ice cream truck on warm summer nights, it can be hard to maintain good eating habits. But don’t let the fun of the season leave you sitting around in a food coma. Instead, practice mindful eating and use simple tricks to ensure you don’t disrupt your healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tips to avoid overeating:

Drink water. A little hydration goes a long way when it comes to curbing hunger. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially before meals will make you feel fuller. Too many times we confuse the sensation of being hungry with dehydration. Drink plenty of water each day to make sure your thirst is properly quenched and to avoid overeating. 

Eat slowly. The longer you take to eat, the more time you give your body to digest and your brain to alert you when you’re full. Take some time to chew each bite thoroughly. This will slow down your eating and allow you to absorb more nutrients from your meal. It will also give you a chance to appreciate and savor the flavor of your food.

Select satisfying foods. Choose foods that will make you feel full faster and for a long period of time. Foods with high fiber, protein and/or water are more likely to be satisfying and have fewer calories. They are also high in volume and take longer for you to digest, making you feel full longer. Try eating raw fruits and colorful vegetables with meals or for a snack. They contain fiber to help give you a feeling of fullness and have a satisfying crunch. Fruits and vegetables are a naturally low calorie, low fat option full of healthy nutrients!

Use smaller plates. We often make our portion sizes way too big. If there is more room on our plates, the more likely we are to fill them. Try using smaller plates to decrease your portion sizes; you’ll serve and eat less.

Be aware. Pay more attention to the whole eating experience. Try these awareness tips:

  • Keep a food diary. This can be a very eye-opening experience! Writing down everything you chose to eat and drink makes you aware of exactly what you are eating, and can help you pinpoint habits you may need to change.
  • Try not to eat when you are in front of the television or computer. When we are distracted we are less likely to pay attention to how much we consume.
  • If you tend to overeat, be mindful of the time of day, place, and your mood while eating so you can better understand why you are eating.
  • Try walking instead of eating, or snack on a healthier option.  
  • Be more aware of your mental state when you are eating. Are you under stress? Are you bored? And the most important question: Are you really hungry? Paying attention to what is going on in your mind when you eat will allow you to identify the reasons for your cravings and allow you to make more informed decisions the next time.