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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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5 Ways You May Be Overeating Without Even Realizing It

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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