Overeating is one of the easiest things to do in the free world. Society doesn’t make it easy to eat sensibly thanks to the availability of fast food restaurants at every corner, ginormous portion sizes at both fast food joints and restaurant establishments and also the plethora of high-calorie convenience foods found in our grocery stores. This is precisely why so many Americans are overweight and even obese.
For an individual to be considered obese, their BMI (body mass index) is 30 or greater. BMI is calculated using a person’s height and weight to determine how “fatty” the body is. The higher the BMI, the higher the risk of developing serious health complications including diabetes, stroke, heart attack or even death.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):
“In 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%.”
If you want to see for yourself how obesity has grown over the years, click here to view an animation provided by the CDC. There you can also view the stats for the state you live in.
So the question is: “How Do I Stop Overeating?”
- Use a Smaller Plate. This is a very simple solution that can work because you can’t fit as much food onto a smaller plate. The average dinner plate is huuuuuuuge and it’s so easy to fill it up with food. Using a smaller plate can help you eat less and consume less calories.
- Measure Portions. It is important to pay attention to serving sizes and eat accordingly. It’s very possible that you’re actually eating 2, 3, 4 or even 5 servings of something when you think you’re eating just one. I know for me, I used to easily eat 3 to 4 servings of cereal because I would just fill my bowl to the tip top. No bueno.
- Keep a Food Diary. I never knew how much I was really eating until I started to record every morsel of food and every drop of liquid I put in my mouth. Keeping a food diary is easier than you think thanks to places like MyFitnessPal. It’s an online community that allows you to set up a profile, create weight loss goals, connect with other users and log your food intake and exercise each day. There is also a place for you to add notes in case you want to document feelings such as how you felt before you ate something or how you felt after eating a particular food or meal.
- Stop Eating When Full. Growing up, I was always encouraged to clean my plate. However, if you’re starting to feel full, don’t feel bad about not eating every last bite. You can save food for later, toss it or even create your own compost.
- Share Your Goals with Friends and Family. One easy way to help hold yourself accountable for working to improve your eating habits is to inform others on your plans to do just that. Supportive friends and family may even help you make better choices or may start to eat better themselves.
- Eat Nutritious Foods. Nutritious foods are able to go a long way compared to calorie-dense food. You can easily down 1,000 to 2,000 calories eating just one meal from a fast food joint. Do you know how much “healthy food” you’d have to eat to get the same amount calories? A whole lot more. Stick to things like lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and also be sure to drink plenty of water. Think of food as fuel for your body – that’s something that has really helped me.
- Be Cautious with Condiments. Condiments include things like ketchup, mustard and salad dressings. They can easily add hundreds of calories to a meal. Pay attention to serving sizes and be careful not to go overboard. You definitely don’t have to stop adding miracle whip, mayo or what have you, but try not to drench your food in it.
- Monitor Liquid Calories Closely. Liquid calories can wreak havoc on an otherwise pretty good diet. If you consume a lot of pop, juice or energy drinks you may want to consider cutting back. For example, if you’re a pop drinker you can literally save 143 calories and almost 40 grams of sugar by skipping one can of Coke.
- Avoid Allowing Yourself a Cheat Day. While it’s a good idea to give in to your not-so-good cravings once in a while you should never devote a full cheat day for yourself each week. Instead, opt for one cheat meal per week. This will give you something to look forward to and you will be less likely to overeat.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up if You Do Overeat. If you go overboard during a meal don’t be too hard on yourself. If you let yourself get too frustrated you might end up just giving up all together and you don’t want that. A little blip is much better than quitting. You know what to do so just let it go and move on.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t assume that you need to incorporate all of these ideas at once. Improving your diet is often better when it’s done gradually over time. This will help you stay on track better than if you were to throw all of your current eating habits out the window and started making really drastic changes all at one time. I know my diet is not 100% perfect and it probably never will be. However, I continue to make changes that improve the way I eat.
When it comes to fitness you want to think for the long term. Fitness and healthy living is just like life..it’s a journey, not a destination.