5 Tips to Avoid Overeating

by Lenny Weiner
CSCS, Precision Nutrition Certified

Valentine’s Day just came and went.  A day to celebrate your one true love. The one that allows you to take on your day full of energy and passion. The one that occupies your mind day and night. The one that makes your heart skip a beat when in their presence.

I’m talking about food, people.

I’m going to suggest you start romancing your meals a little bit, or at the very least, paying a little more attention to them. It will allow you to enjoy the wonderful gift and pleasure of nourishment and help keep you from overeating.

Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself.

Do you check your phone while eating?  Do you sit in front of a TV? Do you count how many times you chew before swallowing? Do you have in depth dialogue about the mysteries of the universe with your dog?

New research indicates that how we eat can directly impact our fat loss efforts, suggesting that “eating attentively” may be the latest, most valuable tool in winning the battle of the bulge.

In a research article that appeared in the April 2013 issue of the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists from the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) reviewed 24 different studies that examined the effect that manipulating memory, distraction, awareness, or attention has on food intake.

The scientists found that eating when distracted not only causes you to eat more at that meal or snack, but, hear this, causes you to eat an even greater amount later on in subsequent meals. On the other hand, the researchers found that being more attentive to meals led to decreased food intake both immediately and at later meals.

So, theoretically one can advanced their fat loss efforts simply by removing distractions from meal time.

Pretty cool stuff.

Here are some helpful tips to increase your attentiveness while eating dining with your one true love.

Avoiding-Overeating

  1. Put the Phone Down. As the researchers suggested, distractions cause you to eat more. Turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and set your phone in another room. As a matter of fact, sit at the table and take the time to enjoy your meal. Nothing wrong with table for one either, folks.
  2. Take Your Time. Cara Stewart, Registered Dietitian and member of the Penn Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery team, says that it takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to register fullness. This means that whatever you eat will take 20 minutes for your brain to register you have had enough. I don’t know about you, but I can rifle down  a lot of food down in 20 minutes. Taking your time allows you to better gauge your level of fullness and satiety and ensures you don’t eat past your fullness level.
  3. Chew Thoroughly. I’ve seen people literally swallow an entire piping hot flapjack, like they’re afraid someone’s going to take the food right out of their mouth. Take your time with each bite and try to recognize different tastes and textures. A good guide is to chew each bite 20 times. The added benefit of this is that digestion starts in the mouth, so you can also avoid some GI distress by chewing more thoroughly.
  4. Give Your Fork a Break. Remember, your fork is not a shovel. You can set it down between bites, which will help you focus on the taste, look, smell, and feel of your meal and help you to slow down your pace.
  5. Have a Conversation. Gasp! Yep, I mean actually talk to someone while you’re eating. My dog Kane and I have some riveting dialogue back forth. If you have any manners, you won’t talk and chew at the same time, so this will slow down your eating, as well as enhance the memory of the meal.

Today’s article was not rocket science. But often we focus too much on the precision of our diets rather than the basics. Sometimes, the basics are exactly what we need.

Slow down, get to know your food (or dog) and take your time when you nourish.

Lenny Weiner is the Head Nutrition Coach at Performance360. Lenny is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and is certified as a Precision Nutrition Coach.

References:

Robinson E, et al. Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;97(4):728-42.

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