Tag Archives: mindful eating

5 Ways to Stop Overeating

Overeating is easy to do, especially during this time of being recommended to stay home. It’s also easy because there are many factors that cause us to overeat, including stress and noshing too fast—both of which we likely experience or do on an almost daily basis. Fortunately, there are many tactics you can use to stop overeating once and for all, from slowing down to learning your body’s hunger cues. Use these tips and strategies to get your eating on track so you can feel fueled and satiated instead of full and frustrated and not putting on what has come to be known as the Covid-15.

Plan Ahead

This is a great tactic even when life is “normal”. Out of sight, out of mind, meaning if it’s not in the house in the first place the chance of eating it is lower. If you’re surrounded by unhealthy food all the time, it can be easy to eat all day long, whether or not you are hungry. Here’s one way to avoid this temptation: Think about how you’ll feel after you eat too much—like those times when you know you’re full, but there’s still food on your plate. A similarly powerful tactic is thinking about how you’ll feel if you don’t eat the food. In almost every case you feel proud, happy and more satisfied than if you’d indulged unnecessarily. Strategy: Before you grab that muffin in your kitchen—especially if you’ve already had a full breakfast—think to yourself: How will I feel when I finish this? Better yet: How will I feel if I walk away right now? Make this a habit, doing it every time you reach for an unnecessary snack; sometimes you’ll want to indulge and that’s okay. But you may find that you say “no” a lot more often than you say “yes.”

Eat Slower

It takes time for your stomach to tell your mind that you’re full because the process of feeling satiated takes time. The stretch receptors in the stomach are activated as it fills with food or water. These signal the brain directly through the vagus nerve that connects gut and brainstem. This process of sending signals from your gut to your brain can take anywhere from five to twenty minutes, which is why it’s important to eat more slowly. Eating too fast is a surefire way to overeat because we get this cue well after we’ve already eaten too much.  Strategy: The next time you eat, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how long it takes you to feel full, paying close attention to the cues your body is sending you. This will give you an approximation of how long it takes your body to feel full, which you can use to stop overeating in the future. Continue eating slowly until you notice that “I’m full” feeling. 

Eat Mindfully

In our on-the-go world, we’re often eating breakfast in the car, rushing through lunch at our desk, and half-heartedly chowing down on dinner while watching our favorites shows. In all of these situations, your focus isn’t on the food you’re eating. It’s on driving, working or watching television, which can lead to overeating. When you’re not paying attention to your body, it’s easy to miss the “I’m hungry” cue—just like when you eat too fast. Strategy: Make a rule to eat at least one meal a day without doing anything else. Notice the difference in recognizing your satiation (feeling full) cues and how satisfied you are. Slowly increase this to two meals each day and eventually to all three.

Give Yourself Time

How many times have you looked down at your plate, knowing that you’re full, and finished it anyway? When you’re done, you feel full and mad at yourself: “Why did I eat the rest of that? I didn’t need it and now I feel like crap”. It’s hard to resist food in the moment, thanks to our need for instant gratification. But giving yourself time to decide whether or not to finish the plate may be exactly what you need. Strategy:  The next time you’re in a moment where you would normally eat more, but know you shouldn’t, stop for 10 minutes. Give yourself time to decide if you want to eat the rest of the food on your plate. Almost every time, you’ll be happy to toss or save the rest of the food when your 10 minutes is up.

Pay Attention to All Your Hunger Cues

If you’re waiting for your stomach to growl, you may be setting yourself up to overeat, because we don’t all experience the same hunger cues. Sometimes it shows up as a headache or a bad mood that comes on suddenly. Knowing how hunger can show up in your body is key to recognizing it before it’s too late and you’re starving. Other potential hunger signals include:

  • Growling stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Low energy
  • Suddenly irritable (“hangry”)

Strategy: Make note of which hunger cues you experience each time you eat. Slowly you’ll discover what means “I’m hungry” for your body, allowing you to eat right away rather than waiting until later, when you’re ravenous, and therefore more likely to overeat.

Overeating, just like overtraining, is a behavioral choice, knowingly or unknowingly. By creating awareness and developing a strategy that is unique to you, meaning you find what works best for you, and implement it is the key to your success. These are just some of the more sensible strategies you can try, but in the end, you’re just looking to create a lifelong habit.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2014: Day 11 – Are You Winning the War?

(This is Part 11 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

holiday-weight-gain-torranceThere are two guarantees in life: death and taxes. The rest of course is up for debate. Every politician that runs for office promises no new or reduced taxes (yeah, right) and there are those who claim that their products or techniques reverse the effects of aging or prolong life. (good luck with that one). There are those however that take a very negative, self-defeating mindset when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle thinking “What’s the point?”; “I don’t have time to exercise”; “Why eat healthy? I want to enjoy life.” And the excuses mount on and on until one day it bites them in the backside and it’s too late. Then it becomes, “I’m just old”, “I have a family history”, or “I never had the time.” I’m not here to tell people how to live their lives but what I can share is a perspective that most never think about or worse, don’t even know that it’s going on. So let me share with you some key points regarding everyone’s health that should probably be taught more stringently and you can determine if you’re winning the war or not. Your health is not an entitlement.

  • Cells are the basic units of every living creature. We have approximately 37.2 trillion of them.
  • There are hundreds of different types of cells in the body and with few exceptions are all constantly dividing and regenerating as little as every two days or more than 30 years depending on the type of cell they are.
  • Every time cells regenerate, they have to rely on materials present to carry through with the process. That’s what we provide through our nutrition.
  • Cellular health depends on the quantity and quality of building materials being made available. Think of two buildings that are knocked down and rebuilt – one is made consistently with concrete blocks and the other is also made with concrete blocks but straw is gradually being used in place of the concrete until ultimately the building can’t be erected anymore. Are you providing quality materials to build strong or weak cells?
  • Over time as the cell is provided with less and less quality material it grows weaker to the point where even intermittent good quality materials are brought in can’t be used optimally.
  • The more and more these tired and weak cells are left to their own to survive the sooner they begin to die off and slowly start bringing more of their surrounding neighbors down with them.
  • The body is designed to keep this scenario from happening at all costs and it does an amazing job of doing just that. But in time, there’s only so much it can take, it gets tired, and begins to throw in the towel.
  • The body fat; the unwanted pounds; the high blood pressure; the high cholesterol; the diabetes, etc. are all examples of the cells losing their individual wars.

So what’s one to do?

  • Every single time you ingest something, whether it be food or drink, you are having an affect on the strength and rebuilding of your cells. You can enjoy all there is in life, but be aware that every choice has a consequence.
  • Every day that you’re not engaging in some form of physical activity, the cellular environment gets stale and sludgy, like a body of water with no movement. In time the net effect compounds and makes every effort to the contrary that much harder.

The best advice will never go away. You need to be mindful of your eating; not perfect. You need to engage in regular physical activity; not just for fat loss. You are not only what you eat, but what you absorb. Exercise goes well beyond just sweating for 30 to 60 minutes a day; it’s an inherent need that when our bodies aren’t getting that movement have no choice but to surrender, and not on your terms.

See you tomorrow for the conclusion of the 2014 12 Days of Fitness


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better


12 Days of Fitness 2014: Day 8 – Mindful Eating

(This is Part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

eating-hamburger-crazy-630Eating can be such a joy. Yes, it’s something we need to do to survive but it can also be one of life’s real pleasures. Problem is, most approach eating not so much as a staple of survival, but an activity that just gets in the way of our already fast paced lives. We do not often think about when we eat, what we eat, why we eat and how we eat. But imagine if we were to slow down and take the time to pay attention to our eating behaviors. We would be able to control our weight more effectively by listening to our bodies’ signals of fullness and hunger. That is the concept behind the idea of mindful eating.

Before You Pick Up The Fork

Mindful eating is about becoming more aware of the positive, nurturing opportunities of the food you are about to eat, rather than just inhaling it. While that’s a concept I’m sure most can appreciate or understand, most are so out of touch with how hungry they really are or how much they eat at any given time that the real pleasure of eating is lost. Mindful eating also helps you to acknowledge your response to food, both physically and emotionally. Engaging in physical activity makes many people think they are free to eat as much as they like. I hear it again and again: “I know I can burn off the extra calories.” Unfortunately, this mindset turns eating into a mindless activity that encourages overconsumption. And it pays little attention to focusing on foods that will fuel the body for physical activity. Exercisers need to be reminded to focus on the quality of their diet—foods and nutrients that energize the body and mind—not the quantity of calories they consume. This can be difficult because people often misread the body’s signals of hunger and satiety. Some research even suggests genetic deficits exist because some people do have a problem realizing they are full. No matter whatever the cause, here are so tips to being more mindful with your eating.

Practical Tips for Mindful Eating.

  1. Wait Until Your Stomach is Empty or Almost Empty – The first step to mindful eating is to eat only when your stomach is (almost) empty, or when you have a slight sense of hunger. This tends to be about 2-3 hours after the last time you eat something. At times, the hunger response is often mistaken for thirst so it is recommended to try drinking a glass of water first to determine if the “hunger” sensation is indeed hunger and not just an indicator of thirst.
  2. Be Aware of Your Environment – When mealtime arrives, it’s important to dedicate all your attention to the food. So sit down, preferably at a table with a nice arrangement that appeals to you visually or some good company. Remove external distractions: no television, phone, tablet or computer. Research has shown that the chance of overeating is greatly diminished.
  3. Appreciate Your Food – As a sort of self-proclaimed foodie myself, I often scratch my head at what some consider to be good food. Part of the enjoyment of eating is to really appreciate what you’re eating and not to just shovel it in. Begin with a moderate portion and focus on appreciating your food. Think about where it came from and whether it’s in its natural state or processed/manufactured. Be grateful in light of the many people around the world who have no food on their plates.
  4. Smell Your Food and Take Time to Taste as You Chew – Distinguish the different flavors, experience the texture, acknowledge the temperature of the food. Stay focused on the food. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that your body is being fed so slow down. Wait until the food enters your stomach before you take the next bite; this will slow the pace of your eating and can prevent heartburn, acid reflux, stomachaches and some intestinal issues. And really chew. Chew about 15-30 times per mouthful. It may be easier if you put your fork down between bites.
  5. Stop Eating When You Feel About Two-Thirds Full – This will help you tune in to your body’s satiety signals. Because you’ve been enjoying your food, you’ll start feeling full more quickly. Ask yourself before you eat that second helping: Is it hunger or habit?

Remember, mindful eating takes practice. Your mind will start to wander so you constantly need to pause and refocus. The practice of mindful eating will help reinforce and remind us how powerful the mind/body connection really is, and that the practice of mindful eating can improve your physical and mental health and overall well-being.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.