“Just one more piece…”
“A couple more bites…”
“Maybe one more helping…”
“Supersize?’ “Go large?” “Sure, why not?”
Common phrases, often overheard, often said. Fast forward a few hours to the stomach ache, headache and out-of-sorts feeling that comes from overeating, not to mention the bathroom scales telling you that you’ve gained weight again.
When overeating becomes a habit, it affects even more than day-to-day well-being. It leads to type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and other horrible medical conditions.
How To Break The Overeating Habit?
How can you figure out when you have had enough to eat? The answer may be simpler that you think: listen to your body, but also know when NOT to listen to your body!
Your body instinctively gives you signs via your senses of what it needs and when it’s had enough. These are known as ‘appetite signals’. You just need to tune in carefully.
However your body’s natural instincts can easily get thrown off when you eat processed food full of refined sugar and bad fats. This leads to cravings that you have to ignore!
Processed food also feeds the bad bacteria in our gut. This leads to the community of good and bad gut bugs – known as our microbiome, getting out balance.
In turn this makes it harder for us to lose weight. In fact, recent scientific studies are revealing that the secret to weight loss may lie in our gut bugs.
Observe Your True Level Of Hunger
One of the ways that bad gut bugs can make us fat is by making us feel strong cravings for unhealthy food, the exact food that they prefer.
Crazy as it sounds, it’s believed that bacteria can actually manipulate our normal appetite signals, for example by messing with our hormones and brain chemistry.
Before eating, reflect on your level of hunger. What is your body telling you? Ask yourself, ‘Am I hungry or is this just a craving?’
If you have a craving for processed food like donuts, pastries, cereal, sodas, KFC, McDonalds, pizza or ice-cream, IGNORE THE CRAVING!
Your natural instincts about what your body needs have been distorted by the addictive ingredients pumped into those foods by companies that don’t give a sh*t about your health and well-being!
Don’t Wait Until You’re Starving
If you are starving, you are more likely to binge-eat without paying attention to quantity or quality of the food you are eating. Starving is characterized by light-headedness or jitteriness and possibly low blood sugar.
Being this hungry impairs your ability to make healthy, wise choices. Try to eat when you are moderately hungry.
At this point, your stomach may be growling, but you can still plan what you want to eat and focus on a nutritious meal or snack to satisfy your hunger.
Eat Slowly And Mindfully
Savor each bite. The first few bites will probably taste the best. When your food starts to taste less appetizing, it is a sign that your body is reaching full.
Pausing between bites is a way to force yourself to eat more slowly. Signals of fullness take time to reach the brain. Eating more slowly helps you notice when you’re passing from “full” to “stuffed”.
Take the time to sit down and consciously focus on your meal. This helps the body to fully register the food being eaten. It also helps to improve digestion and metabolism. When you eat quickly, your body and brain have trouble registering the calories consumed, until it’s too late.
Focusing on the food you are eating helps you to centre on what you are eating and to notice when you are at the right level of fullness.
Feeling full is a feeling of being satisfied. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice it before the feeling of being bloated or uncomfortable kicks in.
What are some signs you’ve eaten too much? A bloated feeling is when your stomach feels larger, your pants may be tighter than at the beginning of the meal, and you begin to feel uncomfortably full.
If you don’t stop there, you may end up feeling stuffed to the point where it’s difficult to move. We often eat this extreme level during the holiday season.
You may also be having heartburn as your stomach acid travels back up your oesophagus.
If you’re feeling bloated on a regular basis even when you’re not over-eating, this is a classic sign that your gut bugs are out of balance.
Clean Eating Helps
The types of food you eat can also help to give your body the full feeling before you hit the stuffed feeling.
Foods that are high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, give a feeling of fullness in smaller quantities than foods that are high in refined carbohydrates and sugar.
Refined carbs like white bread and rice may give you a feeling of fullness at the end of the meal, but that feeling typically does not last, as your body burns off the calories rapidly, leaving you feeling hungry again.
The calories are ’empty’, meaning they give you a quick jolt of energy but without providing vital nutrients the body needs.
For more on this, take a look at my Clean Eating guide.
When Our Instincts Go Wrong
Babies are born with the instinct to eat when hungry and stop when full. We seem to lose the ability to recognize “full” as we get older.
This has a lot to do with the diet of refined carbs, sugar and processed fats that is so common these days.
The fact is that we humans are not great at getting our quantity of food right. Studies show that time and again we miscalculate the amount of calories our body needs day to day.
Why? Perhaps it’s because when we evolved we weren’t surrounded by the tantalising temptations of high-calorie, processed food.
For our ancestors food was often scarce and their focus would have been simply making sure they found and consumed enough food to survive.
And worse still, our diet of processed food distorts our natural instincts, fuelling cravings for more processed crap!