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How to Overcome Overeating

By ascendbodyAugust 3, 2015

A comprehensive nutrition consultation and individualized meal planning are arguably the most important components of our holistic fitness and wellness program at Ascend Body. And, you all know how much I love to chat about optimizing nutrition to meet your lifestyle goals and needs.

The old adage is absolutely true: you are what you eat!

Recently, many clients have spoken to me candidly about overeating, especially during times of the year when work’s a bit slow, family’s around, and you’re entertaining or going to parties and events. In fact, I’d wager this is one of the most common discussion points when I have nutrition consultations with any of my clients.

You’re certainly not alone, so let’s face it together: the extra pounds you’re carrying around are due to overeating. It’s plain and simple.

While we all have a tendency to overeat for myriad reasons, here are a few of the most common culprits:

  1. Your eating is habitual. Whether you realize it or not, you eat in a learned pattern rather than out of absolute necessity. You may “eat your plate clean” because that’s what your parents encouraged you to do or you eat what is served without stopping to check if you are full. In the morning, you butter two pieces of toast for breakfast rather than questioning if one piece would satisfy you.
  2. You eat absentmindedly. You forget to pay attention when you eat and when all’s said and done you’ve consumed an entire family-sized bag of chips! You find yourself munching mindlessly while watching a movie, driving, and/or while doing mundane work. You may even pick at food while preparing a meal.
  3. There’s something deeper going on. Sometimes you eat recreationally, as a hobby, or to alter your mood. While this food may lend you a temporary sense of comfort or pleasure, your body ultimately regrets and/or suffers from the overindulgence.

That said, there are intentional strategies I often suggest to overcome overeating and develop a mindfulness surrounding not only the actual food you’re putting into your body, but also why and how you’re making these decisions.

Once you begin to apply these principles, you’ll notice that food is in fact fuel and that your body will begin to tell you what it needs; you just have to listen.

Strategy #1: Pay Attention

I like to call this conscious eating because it’s all about being aware of what and how much you consume. This simple concept will help you avoid hundreds upon hundreds of unnecessary calories each week.

To apply this strategy in your daily life, don’t eat while your attention is distracted by another activity. This will allow you to recognize when you’re actually hungry rather than eating when you think it’s time to eat.

To minimize distraction, turn off the T.V., get out of your car, and try not to graze in the kitchen while cooking. You’ll enjoy your meal much more and begin to appreciate the harmony of flavors you’ve created rather than picking mindlessly at unprepared food.

Strategy #2: Practice Balance

Be aware of the types of food that you eat during each meal, and make sure it’s balanced. When you eat a balanced diet filled with lean protein, whole grains, lots of veggies, a few daily servings of fruit and limited fat and sweets, your body will be satisfied and you’ll lose the urge to overeat.

This means you shouldn’t always eat carb-based meals, and you also shouldn’t always eat high-fat meals. Make a checklist of the food groups that you’ve eaten each day and use a food journal as your guide. Did you eat lean protein? Did you have plenty of vegetables? Did you refrain from eating more than one or two primarily carb-based meals? This strategy will help you avoid making food decisions that you may regret later.

Strategy #3: Tune In

Your body will always tell you when it’s satisfied so begin to trust the finely-tuned machine it is!

It’s so common to get really good at ignoring your body’s signals and resist the urge to barrel through your meal which most always lends itself to a feeling of discomfort. You probably feel like you’ve been hit by a ton of bricks once all that food hits your stomach.

It’s time to take a deep breath and listen to your body. An important part of being tuned in is to eat slowly. Once you start to pay attention you’ll notice a point when each bite becomes less and less satisfying. That is your body’s way of letting you know that you’ve had enough and that each continued bite is simply too much (yes, even if you’re only halfway through that plate of pasta).

By learning how to control your eating habits, you’ll find weight loss to come simply and naturally rather than something that’s forced and unsustainable.

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