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5 Ways You May Be Overeating Without Even Realizing It

5 Ways You May Be Overeating Without Even Realizing It

There’s nothing more frustrating than working hard towards a goal and not seeing any progress.

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, maybe you can relate: you start making changes to your food, adding in more fresh produce and eating out less, yet after the first few pounds, the weight just doesn’t seem to budge. This dilemma leads many people to try extreme and unsustainable strategies for losing weight.

When I coach weight loss clients and they aren’t seeing the results they were expecting, we don’t start meticulously counting calories, controlling portions, or cutting out entire food groups. Instead, we focus on uncovering the underlying reasons why each person may be eating just a little bit too much. Once these underlying concerns are addressed, it becomes much easier to create consistent weight loss without going hungry or feeling deprived.

Here are five of the biggest reasons why you may be overeating without even realizing it, and how you can create solutions that will work for you.

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1). Your meal looks too small

There’s a well known saying that chefs love: “you eat with your eyes first.” This is true not only because beautiful food seems to taste better, but interestingly, also because food that appears larger is more filling than food that appears smaller.

The research of Dr Barbara J. Rolls, author of the The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet has shown that a variety of foods injected with air, whether it be cheese puffs or milkshakes left people more satisfied while consuming fewer calories. Even a partially smashed hamburger will be less satisfying than one where the bun and lettuce and toppings haven’t been condensed together.

While the skeptics will say that larger volumes of food also are more filling to the stomach, remember we’re talking about air here. Air does not fill up the stomach and prevent room for more food as fiber or water would, suggesting that our brains and visual cues play a large role in determining whether or not our food is satisfying.

The solution to tiny meals: pump up the volume. While we may not have the means to inject our food with air, and volumizing conditioner won’t work here, we can increase the veggie content of each meal. By adding more veggies to each meal, you pump up the volume of the meal and help yourself feel more satisfied with less food.

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2). You don’t chew your food well

We live in a fast paced society, and it can become really easy to get into the habit of quickly biting into your food then swallowing immediately without thoroughly chewing each bite. Not only is there a looming threat of a trip to the emergency room when a big enough piece of chicken gets lodged in your throat, but not chewing your food well may keep you eating past the time that you are actually full. Multiple research studies have shown that thoroughly chewing food decreases the amount of food eaten, and even may improve the blood sugar response that our body has to the meal.

The solution to not chewing enough: chew your food more thoroughly, aiming for 20-30 chews per bite.

3). You eat while distracted

How often do you find yourself eating in front of your desk at work, while watching a movie, or reading a book? This habit of multitasking while eating may be causing you to eat too much.

Multiple research studies have shown that distractions during eating leads to more food being eaten at the meal, and also at following meals. Not only will you eat more when you’re distracted, you’ll also likely get hungry sooner, and eat more at your next meal too.

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The solution to distracted eating: carve out time to enjoy your meal without distraction. Put on some pleasant music, enjoy it with a friend, and pay attention to your food.

4). You rely on external cues rather than internal cues

There’s a lot of talk about why “French women don’t get fat” and it’s a great question. With their cheese and wine and pastries, any number of us would be struggling not to overeat. But according to Dr Brian Wansink from the Food and Brand Lab at Cornel University, the difference is that they listen to their body cues, rather than allowing external cues to decide how much they will eat.

Dr Wansink surveyed a group of Chicagoans and Parisians, and found that overall, the Parisians stopped eating when they were no longer hungry, while the Chicagoans stopped eating when they ran out of food. Interestingly those who were heavier, both from Paris and Chicago, were more likely to rely on external cues, like how much food is left, rather than internal cues, like fullness.

The solution to relying on external cues: Leave the clean plate club! Listen to your body’s hunger signals to decide when you’ve had enough rather than eating until the food is gone.

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5). You munch and graze

Let’s talk about BLTs. I’m not talking about bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, but bites, licks, and tastes that happen between regular meals. For example, a cookie from the office break room, a handful of M&Ms on the way past the reception desk, and a few chips from the chip bowl during the big game.

There are a few things that you need to know about these BLTs. For one thing, when it comes to food eaten out of larger containers, like chips or popcorn, research shows that we tend to eat to the size of the container rather than our actual hunger. That small handful of chips ends up being a few chips more, and a few more, and eventually we’ve eaten half the bowl without ever tasting one of them.

A second thing to know about BLTs is that our bodies don’t compensate for them in our next meal. If we ate an extra food as a snack, it’s easy to assume that we will naturally be less hungry for our next meal and eat less. However, a 2011 research study in the Journal of Nutrition of shows that the meal size does not actually change to compensate for that snack if we ate when we weren’t actually hungry, so we end up eating more over the course of the day than if we would have just skipped the snack.

The solution to munching and grazing: set specific meal times, or set time ranges that work for your meals, and create a habit of not eating between those meals. Some good replacement habits are drinking water, chewing gum, or listening to music.

If you’re trying to lose weight but not seeing the success you were hoping for, take a look at these five areas, and implement these tips, and let me know how it works for you. I have no doubt you’ll be seeing much better progress very soon.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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