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Most of us could say we’ve been guilty of overeating on occasion. Special holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or just a birthday party are a perfect excuse for indulging a little too much, even when we tell ourselves “I need to stop overeating.” However, if you find yourself overeating on a daily or weekly basis, it can cause both your mental and physical health to suffer. In that case, it may be time to learn how to stop overeating the healthy way.
Overeating can be defined as consuming more food than your body can cope with comfortably in one sitting, or consuming more calories than the body needs to function optimally on a daily basis. However, it can also mean snacking too often between meals, or eating a large dinner when you’ve already had too much for lunch.
In general, overeating means you’ll be left feeling bloated and likely suffering digestive symptoms, such as gas or cramping. Ultimately, too much food will lead to weight gain and other negative side effects. Keep reading to learn how to avoid overeating and feel better.
What Causes Overeating?
Knowing how to stop overeating begins with figuring out why you overeat before you try to change your eating habits. There are endless reasons for this, but here are some of the most common.
We often see food as a “pick me up,” so we’re more inclined to reach for something sweet or carb-rich when we’re feeling fatigued. This tends to happen in the afternoon, when we feel a “slump” in our energy and reach for a snack that we have tucked into our desk.
Eating is sometimes our way to fill time. It’s also very easy to snack without thinking while watching a movie or TV. Boredom can also lead us to reach for comfort foods, which wreak havoc on our daily calorie consumption.
A few drinks can increase your appetite and also hinder your sense of feeling full. Salty, fatty snacks are often paired with alcoholic beverages, which, in turn, make you drink more alcohol to quench your thirst.
If you’re not drinking enough water, it can lead to feelings of “hunger,” but what your body really wants is a glass of water.
How to Stop Overeating
Try these 3 simple things if you want to stop overeating and be healthy again:
1. Be More Mindful
Mindless eating is a common problem in Western society. We’re often so busy rushing around after family and work commitments that we eat on the run, or we make mindless food choices.
That means reaching for quick snacks that give us an energy boost on the run, or grabbing whatever is closest while we’re finishing another task. Sometimes, mindless eating is simply eating while watching TV.
Unfortunately, these distractions not only reduce our enjoyment of the food we’re putting into our mouths, but they can quickly lead to eating too much. Our brain fails to pick up on the signs of physical fullness, or to even notice what we’ve eaten.
But there’s a way around this. When you engage with your food, you can stop eating mindlessly and start eating mindfully. Mindful eating means tuning in to what your body really wants and needs.
You can begin eating more mindfully by checking in with yourself each time you reach for a snack or treat.
Ask yourself why you’re choosing this particular food. Are you bored, actually hungry, upset, or stressed?
When you stop and notice your thoughts and emotions, you’ll be more focused on what’s really going on in your head. Even if you do go ahead and eat the snack, you’ll be more aware of the fact that you’re eating it, rather than carrying out an automatic action. This can help you to break a chain of unconscious eating behavior.
Learn more about mindful eating in this article: The Best Benefits of Mindful Eating for Weight Loss and How to Start Now
2. Plan Your Meals
Making bad food choices often happens because we’re hungry on the run. Planning and preparing your meals in advance can help prevent you from falling victim to fast food and other treats and help you learn how to stop overeating by paying attention to your portion sizes.
If you’re going out for dinner, check the menu before you go to the restaurant so that you know what to expect.
Pack your lunch to take to work so that you don’t have to run off to the cafeteria or pizza place. This way, you can prepare healthy meals for yourself using quality ingredients. If you know that you have a freshly-made turkey sandwich in your bag, you’ll be less likely to stop by the vending machine for a pack of potato chips.
3. Eat More Protein and Fiber
Protein is a valuable nutrient that supplies your body with the amino acids it needs to restore muscle tissue, along with many other roles. Protein takes a lot longer for your digestive system to break down, so you’ll feel fuller for longer. This can help you as you learn how to stop overeating.
Studies show that eating a breakfast high in protein increases satiety (feeling satisfied after eating) and reduces hunger throughout the day.
Researchers also used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show that eating a protein-rich breakfast can reduce the signals your brain makes to control food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior.
Fiber can also help prevent overeating. Fiber fills you up but contains very few calories. It also helps to regulate your blood sugar levels so you’re less likely to crave sweet things (like carbs and treats) later in the day. Fiber cannot be broken down in the digestive system, so it adds bulk to your waste and helps keep you regular.
What Helps Your Stomach After Overeating?
If you’ve overindulged, one of the best things you can do is take a gentle walk. The movement will help to promote peristalsis, the wave-like motions of your digestive system that move food through your intestines.
Don’t force yourself to move too quickly or strenuously, as this will shunt blood flow to your muscles rather than your stomach and slow down your digestion.
Peppermint tea will also help to soothe a bloated stomach if you haven’t quite mastered how to stop overeating. Peppermint is very effective for relieving digestive symptoms such as gas and indigestion. It also helps to prevent spasms in the gut caused by smooth muscle contracting.
Top 3 Supplements to Regulate Your Appetite
Your gut is home to billions of microbes that have important roles in your overall health. Some of these microbes have been shown to have ways of letting the brain know when they’ve received enough nutrients to replicate.
These signals play a key role in the physiology of appetite; that is, they can turn your hunger on and off.
Certain strains of probiotic bacteria have been shown to reduce food intake in animals, even when they are hungry. One compound was able to stimulate the release of a hormone associated with satiety signals, while another appeared to increase the firing of brain neurons that diminish appetite.
Human studies have also shown positive results. In a study involving a group of 125 overweight men and women, half of the subjects were given a daily probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, while the other half took a placebo.
All of the subjects underwent a weight loss program for 12 weeks, followed by a 12-week maintenance program. The women taking the probiotic supplement showed an average weight loss of 4.4kg, while the women receiving the placebo lost only 2.6kg.
The Infuel Probiotic can help regulate your appetite.
Gymnema is a herb that has been found to help block your ability to taste sweetness, which can help as you learn how to stop overeating. The gymnemic acid blocks the sugar receptors on your tongue, preventing you from enjoying anything sweet. This can make sweet foods less desirable!
Gymnema is also known to stimulate insulin production in your pancreas, which promotes the regeneration of insulin-producing islet cells. Better insulin production means that your blood sugar levels stay steady, reducing the incidence of sugar cravings that can lead to overeating.
Green Tea Extract
One of the primary polyphenols in green tea extract is epigallocatechin gallate (ECG). ECG has been shown to not only boost fat oxidation and increase energy expenditure, but may also help control appetite, which is key as you learn how to stop overeating.
When given to overweight patients, EGCG was shown to delay gastric emptying (the time it takes for food to leave the stomach). The patients who took EGCG also reported greater satiation in the 90 minutes after eating. This suggests that EGC can help prevent overeating by helping you feel full and stay satisfied longer.
The Bottom Line
Be committed to your goal to stop overeating, but also be patient with yourself. Everything takes time, and so does breaking your overeating habit.
By following the 3 steps I suggest above, you will gradually stop overeating and learn to enjoy your food with a sense of mindfulness and an eye toward your long-term health.
More on How to Stop Overeating
Featured photo credit: Phillip Goldsberry via unsplash.com