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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 August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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