This article originally appeared on Kath Eats Real Food. Kath is a RD and bakery shop owner who posts delicious recipes and informative nutrition articles. Check out her blog for inspiration from what a Dietitian really eats!
Ten Habits That Keep You Overeating
I was an active kid, but for some reason I had no endurance. After 10 seconds of running I was out of breath, with a burning stitch in my side. There’s a name for this: Exercise-Related Trans Abdominal Pain. It was extremely painful, but people just thought I was lazy.
All my life I was jealous of people who could run. When I was 20 I finally decided to face this monster and just do it. My goal was to run a half marathon.
So I trained through the pain. I worked myself up to five mile runs, three times a week, with a longer run on the weekend. Eventually I did run the half marathon. My time would have embarrassed others, but it was a huge accomplishment for me!
Before marathon training, I had a little muffin top and some other jiggly spots. Just like so many other people, I thought that exercise would be the magic cure for that little problem. Running 20 miles a week is a recipe for a lean body, right? I was surprised to find that this didn’t happen. I still jiggled, even while I was in the best cardiovascular shape of my life.
In the 10 years that followed, I graduated with a nutrition degree and worked for several years as a Registered Dietitian. Along the way I realized that my overeating was the underlying cause of my body issues. No matter how much I ran, I wouldn’t lose that extra fat if I kept eating more than my body needed! I realized that some of my old habits were causing me to overeat. Things that I did everyday were subconsciously causing me to eat more than I needed or intended.
As life has gotten busier I’ve unfortunately stopped running, but my clothes have never fit me better! In the past few years I’ve been pregnant, birthed a beautiful baby, and I can honestly say that I look better than ever before!
Maybe that doesn’t sound very humble, but it doesn’t feel like bragging… because it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. Running a marathon took hard work, dedication, and sweat. That’s an accomplishment!
All I did to lose weight is learn how to respond to my body’s needs and regulate my eating to match it.
I’ve discovered for myself, and observed in my clients, that many daily habits cause overeating. It’s only when we identify and change these habits that we can cure ourselves!
The Ten Habits
- Multi-tasking. Do you eat while watching TV, checking Facebook, or even while making the kids’ lunches? Are you eating right now while you’re reading this? Multi-tasking is a prized skill in today’s society. But when it comes to eating, our bodies haven’t caught on to this phenomenon. Our stomachs send us subtle cues to tell our brain to stop feeding it, but these are missed if we’re distracted!
- Not planning ahead. After a busy day you and your spouse sit down to relax and watch a TV show and decide to have a snack. You open the bag of chips, and three episodes later you have an empty chip bag, crumpled into a crinkly ball of regret.
- Sprint Eating. Remember those subtle cues our stomachs send our brains to tell us to stop eating? Well, they don’t work instantaneously. It takes time. If you’re sprint eating, you run ahead of those signals. sprint past the point when your stomach was trying to send signals to your brain to stop eating.
- Filling up on meat and potatoes. In North America we tend to eat one course at dinner. Common eating practices in France involve multi-course dinners. Yet we continue to hear how French people are much smaller, on average, than North Americans! How can they eat more food, yet weigh less? The secret is in the first course: a soup or salad! If you start your meal with veggies, which have fewer calories, you will have less room to fill up on the main course.
- Not fully enjoying your food. The act of eating was meant to be enjoyable. Why else would God have created such amazing and diverse flavours? Our food is sweet and salty, crunchy and velvety. Your brain knows that it should enjoy that food, so if you don’t enjoy it enough, it wants more! Taking the time to savour each food can have a dramatic impact on the amount you eat. You’ll find that you enjoy your food more but eat less!
- Eating the wrong foods. When you eat certain foods, you’ll find yourself hungry and craving a snack in just a short while. Other foods will sustain you until your next meal. It’s important to choose foods that will keep you feeling fuller, for longer. These are foods that are higher in protein, fibre, and water! Being in touch with how different foods make you feel can motivate you to choose more sustaining options. This is a powerful trick to cut down on unhealthy snacking.
- Keeping Food in Sight. The sight of food can actually cause the glands in our mouth to start salivating! You might not be feeling hungry or thinking of food one moment. The next moment the sight of a tasty snack can cause you to reach for it, without thinking about it! Keeping foods in the cupboard and out of sight can do wonders for putting a halt to spontaneous eating.
- Thinking of your workout as a workout. When people perceive the physical activity they do as exercise, they tend to reward themselves afterwards for all the hard work they’ve done. Often the reward comes in the form of a donut or other food. Instead of doing activities because you know you should exercise, find activities you enjoy doing. Not only will you find that it’s easier to make it a habit, you also won’t reach for a food reward afterwards.
- Restricting Diets! This one is counterintuitive. You’d think that restricting food would be the first thing you’d want to do if you wanted to stop overeating. In reality, the act of restricting something just makes you want it more. This is one of the main psychological causes for overeating.
- Using Bowls and Plates that Are TOO Big. The bigger the plate, the more your mind is going to want to fill it with food. Since most of us were taught to “finish the food on our plates,” the bigger the plate, the more we eat! Swap out your dinner plates for smaller plates. You’ll find yourself taking smaller portions.
Do any of these habits sound familiar to you? How do you plan on changing these habits now that you’re aware of how problematic they are? Do you suspect that reading this article won’t be enough for you to change these significant aspects of your life?
I’ve thought that as well. Changing habits is HARD.
That’s why I’ve developed a 10 week program that walks you through the steps of changing these habits. In “I Quit Overeating” you’ll find strategies that make your habits work for you, not against you. Instead of food controlling you, you’ll be able to regulate your eating for the amount that’s right for your body! I can’t describe how freeing that is.
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