Overeating makes it almost impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals, because any time you consume more calories than you burn, your body is forced to store fat. This happens regardless of how healthy you eat, so it is important to avoid overeating as much as possible. This article discusses 4 tips you can use to improve your eating habits at home.
The first tip is incredibly basic, but it is probably the most effective thing you can do to prevent overeating. That is, don’t keep foods around that you are likely to overeat. If there are foods that you know you cannot stop yourself from eating, then you should not buy them.
It takes a lot of restraint and willpower to avoid overeating foods you like when they are readily available at home, but it takes much less effort to resist buying the food in the first place. When you are at the store, think about how likely you are to overeat the foods you buy and if you cannot resist an item, then put it back find a better substitute.
Another thing to avoid is eating food out of a large bag or package. When people eat foods from a large container, such as a bag of chips or tub of ice cream, they tend to overeat. This is especially true when sitting down with the food and eating in front of the TV or while engaging in some other passive activity.
During these situations, there is often no conscious thought about how much food is being consumed and eating continues out of habit, not because of hunger. Before the person realizes it, they may eat the whole package or at least much more than they intended to before they sat down with the food. Instead of taking the package, take one serving of the food and put the package away and out of sight.
A related tip is to avoid having seconds during meals. The larger amounts of food you eat at one time, the more likely you will store extra calories as fat. Instead of having seconds during the meal, you can set a reasonable amount of the food aside and eat it for your next small meal 2-3 hours later.
It is also a good idea to keep the prepared food away from your eating space. Instead of keeping all the food at the table, leave it on the counter or in some other location. Then you can prepare a plate for yourself before you sit down and not have the temptation of eating seconds right in front of you.
The final tip is something that really makes all the other tips work even better and that is to eat using smaller plates. This is a great way to achieve instant portion control. Numerous studies have shown that when people use larger plates or bowls they also take larger portions and consume more calories1. Switching from a 12 inch plate to a 10 or 8 inch plate can do wonders for preventing overeating.
If you only eat two or three times a day, then and 8 inch plate will probably not be big enough to keep you satisfied, but if you eat the recommended five or six small meals a day, then 8 inch plates work just fine. Of course, this strategy only works if you are able to keep yourself from going back for more.
1. Wansink B, Cheney MM. Super Bowls: Serving Bowl Size and Food Consumption. JAMA. 2005;293:1727-1728.
14 years of experience and education in health and fitness