How to Avoid Overeating

There is pressure all around us to diet, yet increasing numbers of Americans are becoming obese. It seems that overeating is a behavior that is available to anyone -- man, woman or child. So if you or a loved one is prone to overeating, you run the risk of numerous health problems. The best solution is to manage your food intake, but failing that, these harm reduction tips will help protect your health and well-being, even if you are eating too much.

Weigh Yourself Regularly

You don’t have to weight yourself every day, or even every week, but jumping on the bathroom scales once or twice a month will give you an idea of whether your weight is stable, or whether you are gaining or losing weight. Don’t know what your weight should be? Check out my article, Am I Fat?

It might be more useful to take a measurement than to weigh yourself – a quick waist measurement once or twice a month will tell you whether changes are happening. Use your belly button as a reference point so you don’t cheat, and measure yourself without sucking in or puffing out your tummy. If your waist measurement goes up twice in a row, it’s time to review your eating habits, and rein them in. Look at tip 3 for more advice on how to do this.

And if you can’t bear to either weigh or measure yourself, don’t just automatically go up a size if your clothing gets too tight. Think about losing what you have gained rather than giving in to overeating and weight gain.

Cutting back by a little now could prevent you from going down the slippery slope towards obesity, and having to lose a lot later when it is much more difficult.

Count calories

You don’t need to be obsessive about it, but simply ignoring the calorific content of foods when you are prone to overeating is asking for trouble.

You should know the overall number of calories you need, on average, per day, to either maintain your weight if it is healthy or to reduce your weight gradually.

Counting every single calorie is not necessary, but rather, know the foods you enjoy that are particularly high in calories. Whipping cream, butter, and sweets are the most obvious examples, but there are many other favored foods that are extremely high in calories, and can have you eating the equivalent of a full meal’s worth of calories in a small snack.

And it’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t eat these foods – if you find them highly pleasurable, there is a lot to be said for enjoying them. But you need to scale back other foods the same or the next day to prevent yourself from putting on weight. Keep your overall calorie quota in mind, and when you indulge, cut back somewhere else.

Remember, you can’t have your cake and eat it too!

Substitute healthy snacks for junk food

While snacking can be a high-risk activity for overeating, not all snacks are created equal.

When we overeat, we tend to go after sugar, salt, fat or texture. So you can find healthier foods to snack on, which will give you a similar sensory stimulus, without the unhealthy consequences.

Here are some suggestions:

Sweet food substitutes:

Sugar addiction is a form of food addiction in its own right. Instead of chocolate or other candy, which is high in empty calories, try fresh or dried fruit, which are low in calories and high in vitamins.

Salty food substitutes:

Instead of chips, which are high in empty calories, try olives, which are high in healthy fats.

Crunchy food substitutes:

Instead of chips, peanuts, popcorn or other high-calorie crunchy snacks, try raw vegetables such as celery or carrots, healthier nuts such as walnuts, and cereal based snacks such as granola or rice cakes.

Creamy food substitutes:

Instead of real cream, which is extremely high in calories, look for half fat or low-fat substitutes. If you like sour cream as a savory dip, try low fat or no fat sour cream, or a thick yogurt. Healthy dips such as hummus might also do the trick.

For ice cream:

You can go with low sugar, low fat, or both. But if you are a real ice cream junkie, think about purchasing an ice-cream maker, so you have full control over the ingredients, and the power to turn your fix into a health kick. For example, you can use higher amounts of pureed fruit for added nutrition, lower sugar without sweeteners if it isn’t the sugar or sweetness you are after, and healthy ingredients such as low-fat yogurt, soy milk, and healthy fats such as flaxseed oil.

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