I’m no expert on weight loss but I’ve always been fit and managed to eat healthy food. I was raised with good habits and learned a few tricks along the way that have made it easy for me to avoid over eating and stay in shape. More than exercise, dieting or any other weight loss trick, simply eating healthy food consistently and keeping yourself from over eating will make the biggest difference in maintaining your target weight.
The following tips work best when used together in a healthy pattern of eating. As with many things in life, the people you surround yourself with (and even society) may influence you positively or negatively and have created a mental anchor point for what is normal. Since I was raised in a very active family with skinny parents, my normal point is a lot closer to true fitness. The best way to eat is healthy, I have found that after a month of following a healthy diet and not over eating, the body adjusts and it becomes easy to maintain and your tastes and senses adapt. What at first might taste “earthy” will later become normal and those greasy burgers and fries (or whatever you’re eating now) will start to taste heavy and make you gassy. Your body adapts.
- first off, use smaller bowls and plates, this tip comes straight from Ghandi who obviously never had a problem with being overweight, you don’t have to take it as far as he did but Ghandi followed a strict vegetarian diet and usually cooked his own foods which were fairly simple and grown locally, by eating from a small bowl his normal became smaller and it will for you too. I see this happen right before my own eyes when I eat cereal from a larger bowl vs. a smaller one, I tend to fill the larger bowl with more cereal and in either case I tend to finish all of the food that gets put in the bowl, so get yourself a smaller bowl and watch as you begin to eat less
- eat slowly so your body has a chance to recognize the food you have put in and send signals back to your brain that you’re full, if you’ve ever eaten a burger, fries and a drink quickly at a fast food restaurant you probably noticed that afterward it hits you like a ton of bricks, you ate more than you needed or wanted but you didn’t have time to realize it, this tendency is increased by the loud music and frantic pace many restaurants promote, those environments are known to make people eat faster and it helps the business server more customers and make more money
- snack throughout the day if you feel hungry, this goes right along with eating slowly, if you feel hungry just get a small healthy snack so you aren’t always suffering through food cravings and preparing to gorge yourself later like a lion, I truly believe that people can either eat like gazelles (vegetarian grazers) or lions (one off meat eaters), notice that gazelles are skinny, alert, nimble and active whereas lions go through wide swings and have to overeat and nap because it may be a while before their next meal… don’t train your body to overeat by waiting for large unhealthy meals that expand your stomach and train you to hold fat stores
- don’t starve yourself… ever! Your body reacts and begins to store fat to help you make it through the next fast. Don’t skip breakfast, don’t work through lunch, just don’t do it, you’re not getting skinnier here you’re just burning muscle and retraining and hurting your body.
- don’t be so polite, I have found that often the biggest enemy of being healthy and at a desired weight is manners, having to “save your appetite” and then “cleaning your plate” this is ridiculous and will only build your cravings and teach you to overeat, would you rather clean your plate like a good little girl or boy and be a fat slob to the rest of the world or toss a bit of extra food (better yet save it for another meal) and potentially teach yourself and others to cook less and use smaller dishware. This isn’t the Victorian era, being fat isn’t popular or cool, it’s just unhealthy
- always have a bottle of water to drink, reusable bottles that are BPA free are best (and save resources and money), don’t drink soda, coffee, juice or anything else (except for at meals or maybe once a day for fun). Drinking water will dilute the digestive acids in your empty stomach that make you feel less hungry and let’s face it, water is just good for you! It’s hard to drink too much water unless you’re tripping on extacy and that’s just plain unhealthy. Furthermore, if you’re using soda and coffee or alcohol as a food replacement you’re just malnourishing yourself and preparing for a crash. Europeans drink room temperature water and I’ve heard it’s healthier but sometimes you can stave off hunger by chewing on ice and drinking cold water. It’s a good distraction that isn’t so good for your teeth, pick your poison right? Consider chewing on celery. When you drink cold water you actually burn more energy than you get because your body has to heat it up… in general just carry around a nice water bottle and drink regular water regularly.
- in addition to snacking and drinking water, eating healthy soup will make you feel full without taking in too many calories (because it’s mostly water) and it can help to pace you going in to larger meals so you don’t overeat desert or unhealthy components of the main course, this brings us back to manners and seeing all that good food go to waste, yeah, we’re a depressing species aren’t we? Buy some Tupperware and save save save
- for snacks and when you feel cravings eat raw veggies and hummus, never cheat yourself with unhealthy or rich hummus either! This is just as bad as eating a salad to be “healthy” and then smothering it with dressing and cheese. Stop lying to yourself. I have found that it is nearly impossible to over eat or get fat on raw vegetables like broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, you go from being so hungry to just plain full and not interested in eating anything more, this is a wonderful gauge for what “real eating” consists of, there’s no sugar, salt or anything else to make it especially fun, it’s just eating and you soon get bored and full
- only surround self with healthy foods, you are way less likely to over eat if your conveniently located food supply is all healthy (and thus more boring), unfortunately with the advent of fast food, cars, quickie marts and delivery this is hard to combat. You become your own worst enemy when you enable yourself to satisfy eating cravings, make it harder by only stocking healthy stuff in your house and reminding yourself that you’re wasting gas to get that Big Mac or ice cream cone, what gives you the right to mess up our environment so you can feel better by eating? The cravings will pass, eat some raw vegetables. The biggest challenge with this one for some people is knowing what is healthy, here is a list of what I have at my house: granola, almond milk, sugar free jello, bananas, raw vegetables, natural orange juice, ProBars (which I eat almost daily for convenience taste and health), blueberries and strawberries, whole wheat pasta, corn, baked beans, sliced turkey breast and brown rice. When I eat out I like sushi, Subway and Chipotle and I don’t over-order or get unhealthy sides. I try to avoid pizza, greasy Mexican and American burgers and fries. I’m lactose intolerant, and while I can use Lactaid to eat milk, cheese, chocolate etc. I usually choose not to and this helps remind me what is unhealthy. Almost all milk products, including milk are unhealthy and fattening… milk is full of hormones, get almond milk instead.
- plan fun non-food related activities, when I was younger I used to wish I could inject meals directly into my stomach because it was just such a waste of time to go inside, prepare food, eat it and wait for everyone else to finish and clean dishes, this is because the rest of my life was so fun! Eating isn’t about having fun but in our society of 24/7 work it has become increasingly desirable because it’s a break that we desperately need. Heck, sometimes I’m floored to go to the bathroom because it means I get a break from work and a chance to relax in peace, food is like this and breaking down the connection between food being your only source of fun by adding in more activities and being more active will help you step away and stop over eating
- no matter what food you do eat, exercise and muscle building will increase your metabolism and help your body process food better, this isn’t so much about over eating as creating balance but it will help you deal with what you eat more effectively
So that’s it, those are some great tips for avoiding overeating and just eating in a way that is more healthy. You are the one who will gain from this, feeling better about yourself and having more energy (like a gazelle) so just give it a go and start admitting to yourself what foods are unhealthy and that you’re working too much and not doing enough healthy fun things. I know it’s hard but it’s definitely worth it and every little bit helps, if you need more help there are groups like Overeaters Anonymous you can meet with. Remember that eating healthy locally grown foods, and less food in general, is also good for the environment and will help to create a world that is better for your friends and children.