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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

How to Stop Overeating the Healthy Way (Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Stop Overeating the Healthy Way (Step-by-Step Guide)

Most of us could say we’ve been guilty of overeating on occasion. Special holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or just a birthday party are a perfect excuse for indulging a little too much!

But if you find yourself overeating a little too often, your health may begin to suffer – both mentally and physically.

Overeating is defined as overeating can be defined as consuming more food than your body can cope with comfortably in one sitting, or consuming more calories than the body needs to function optimally on a daily basis. But it can also mean snacking too often between meals, or eating a large dinner when you’ve already had too much for lunch.

In general, overeating means you’ll be left feeling bloated and likely suffering digestive symptoms such as gas or cramp. Ultimately, too much food will lead to weight gain.

What Causes Overeating?

Knowing how to stop overeating begins with figuring out WHY you overeat. There are endless reasons for this, but here are some of the most common ones.

  • Being tired – We often see food as a ‘pick me up’, so we’re more inclined to reach for something sweet or carb-rich when we’re feeling fatigued.
  • Boredom – Eating is sometimes our way to fill time. It’s also very easy to snack without thinking while watching a movie or TV.
  • Alcohol – A few drinks can increase your appetite and also hinder your sense of feeling full. Salty, fatty snacks are often paired with alcoholic beverages, which in turn make you drink more alcohol to quench your thirst.
  • Not drinking enough water – Being thirsty can often be mistaken for being hungry.

How To Stop Overeating

Try these 3 simple things if you want to stop overeating and be healthy again:

1. Be More Mindful

Mindless eating is a common problem in Western society. We’re often so busy rushing around after family and work commitments that we eat on the run, or we make mindless food choices.

That means reaching for quick snacks that give us an energy boost on the run, or grabbing whatever is closest while we’re finishing another task. Sometimes, mindless eating is simply eating while watching TV.

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Unfortunately, these distractions not only reduces our enjoyment of the food we’re putting into our mouths, but they can quickly lead to eating too much. Our brain fails to pick up on the signs of physical fullness, or to even notice what we’ve eaten mentally.

But there’s a way around this. When you engage your mind with your food, you can stop eating mindlessly and start eating mindfully. Mindful eating means tuning in to what your body really wants and needs.

You can begin eating more mindfully by checking in with yourself each time you reach for a snack or treat.

Ask yourself why you’re choosing this particular food. Are you bored? Are you actually hungry? Are you upset or stressed?

When you stop and notice your thoughts and emotions, you’ll be more focused on what’s really going on in your head.

Even if you do go ahead and eat the snack, you’ll be more aware of the fact that you’re eating it, rather than carrying out an automatic action. This can help you to break a chain of unconscious eating behavior.

Learn more about mindful eating in this article: The Best Benefits of Mindful Eating for Weight Loss and How to Start Now

2. Plan Your Meals

Making bad food choices is sometimes because we’re hungry on the run. Planning and preparing your meals in advance can help prevent you from falling victim to fast food and other treats.

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If you’re going out for dinner, check the menu before you go to the restaurant so that you know what to expect.

Pack your lunch to take to work so that you don’t have to run off to the canteen or pizza place. This way, you can prepare healthy meals for yourself using quality ingredients. If you know that you have a freshly-made turkey sandwich in your bag, you’ll be less likely to stop by the vending machine for a packet of potato chips.

Try these 10 Meal Planning Apps To Get Healthier Easily.

3. Eat More Protein and Fiber

Protein is a valuable nutrient that supplies your body with the amino acids it needs to restore muscle tissue, along with many other roles. Protein takes a lot longer for your digestive system to break down, so you’ll feel fuller for longer.

Studies show that eating a breakfast high in protein, increases satiety (feeling satisfied after eating) and reduces hunger throughout the day.[1]

Researchers also used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show that eating a protein-rich breakfast can reduce the signals your brain makes to control food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior.[2]

Fiber can also help prevent overeating. Fiber fills you up but contains very few calories. It also helps to regulate your blood sugar levels so you’re less likely to crave sweet things (like carbs and treats) later in the day. Fiber cannot be broken down in the digestive system, so it adds bulk to your waste and helps keep you regular.

What Helps Your Stomach After Overeating?

If you’ve overindulged, one of the best things you can do is to take a gentle walk. The movement will help to promote peristalsis, the wave-like motions of your digestive system that move food through your intestines.

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Don’t force yourself to move too quickly or strenuously, as this will shunt blood flow to your muscles rather than your stomach and slow down your digestion.

Peppermint tea will also help to soothe a bloated stomach. Peppermint is very effective for relieving digestive symptoms such as gas and indigestion. It also helps to prevent spasms in the gut caused by smooth muscle contracting.

Top 3 Supplements To Regulate Your Appetite

Probiotics

Your gut is home to billions of microbes that have important roles in your overall health. Some of these microbes have been shown to have ways of letting the brain know when they’ve received enough nutrients to replicate.

These signals play a key role in the physiology of appetite; that is, they can turn your hunger on and off.

Certain strains of probiotic bacteria have been shown to reduce food intake in animals, even when they are hungry. One compound was able to stimulate the release of a hormone associated with satiety, while another appeared to increase the firing of brain neurons that diminish appetite.[3]

Human studies have also shown positive results. In a study involving a group of 125 overweight men and women, half of the subjects were given a daily probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus, while the other half took a placebo. Here’s the result:[4]

All of the subjects underwent a weight loss program for 12 weeks, followed by a 12-week maintenance program. The women taking the probiotic supplement showed an average weight loss of 4.4kg, while the women receiving the placebo lost only 2.6kg.

Consider these 7 Best Probiotic Supplements  to regulate your appetite.

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Gymnema Sylvestre

Gymnema is a herb that has been found to help block your ability to taste sweetness. The gymnemic acid blocks the sugar receptors on your tongue, preventing you from enjoying anything sweet. This can make sweet foods less desirable![5]

Gymnema is also found to stimulate insulin production in your pancreas, which promotes the regeneration of insulin-producing islet cells. Better insulin production means that your blood sugar levels stay steady, reducing the incidence of sugar cravings that can lead to overeating.[6]

Green Tea Extract

One of the primary polyphenols in green tea extract is epigallocatechin gallate (ECG). ECG has been shown to not only boost fat oxidation and increase energy expenditure but may also help control appetite.

When given to overweight patients, EGCg was shown to delay gastric emptying (the time it takes for food to leave the stomach). The patients who took EGCg also reported greater satiation in the 90 minutes after eating.[7] This suggests that EGC can help prevent overeating by making you feel full and more satisfied for longer.

Bottom Line

Be committed to your goal to stop overeating, but also be patient with yourself. Everything takes time, and so does breaking your overeating habit.

By following the 3 steps I suggest in this article, you will gradually stop overeating and be healthy again!

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Featured photo credit: Phillip Goldsberry via unsplash.com

Reference

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Lisa Richards

Nutritionist, Creator of The Candida Diet, Owner of TheCandidaDiet.com

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Published on January 14, 2021

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

Meal plans are a great way to cut down waste, make shopping for food quicker and easier, and help you to stick to healthy choices. But where do you start? What makes a healthy meal plan for the week, and how do you know what to include?

Firstly, there is no healthy meal plan that works for everyone. At different stages of your life, you will need different levels of nutrients, but there are some general principles that you can follow, and then adjust as necessary. Here’s how to create a healthy meal plan for the week.

The Backbone of Your Healthy Meal Plan

For the vast majority of adults, these practical tips should be the backbone of your meal plan:

  • A range of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain carbohydrates (brown rice, brown bread, millet, bulgar wheat, etc)
  • Fermented food such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
  • Unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Two portions of oily fish such as salmon per week (or nuts and seeds if you don’t eat fish)
  • A handful of nuts and seeds a day
  • Aim for 30g of fiber a day
  • Eat a range of beans and pulses (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils)
  • Drink approximately 8 glasses of water a day[1]

Calorie Counting

A calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1g water from 14.5 to 15.5°Celsius. This is calculated in a laboratory, by burning the food. However, the food is not “burnt” in our bodies, and people’s metabolism and energy expenditure vary, so it’s a very rough estimate.

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The absorption and, therefore, how much energy is available for you to use, is also affected by how the food is processed. An example of this is sweetcorn. If you grind it down into a powder and make a tortilla, you will absorb far more calories than if you eat whole sweetcorn kernels. Instead, you will see most of the kernels untouched, in the toilet!

Another concern with calories is that instead of thinking about nutrient quality, it promotes prioritizing quantity. For example, there is a huge difference in the number of nutrients you could consume in 500 calories of fruit and vegetables, versus 500 calories of ice cream.

Also the number of calories you need varies according to so many factors, such as age, gender, lifestyle, and activity level, that it is hard to accurately predict exactly how many you need. Instead, I prefer to recommend a general principle of how to balance your plate and a reminder to eat mindfully when you are physically hungry, not because of an emotional trigger.

How to Balance Your Plate

When thinking of your healthy meal plan, for each meal your plate should contain approximately:

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  • Fruit and vegetables (1/2 plate)
  • Whole grains (1/4 plate)
  • Lean protein (1/4 plate)
  • A spoon of unsaturated oil

This will help you when you think of each meal to work out what to include and approximate portion sizes.

An Example Day

Breakfast

  • Overnight oats, with chia seeds, quinoa and milk or fortified plant based milk
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • A handful of mixed nuts

Lunch

  • Grilled tofu with a mixed salad and bulgar wheat
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • Apple slices with nut butter

Dinner

  • Chicken / tofu / salmon with miso brown rice and spring greens
  • OR vegetable curry, daal, and brown rice
  • OR stuffed aubergine with mixed vegetables and millet or quinoa
  • A piece of fruit

How to Adjust Your Meal Plan

There are certain phases when more or less nutrients are needed, so it is important to consider your changing needs.

When You’re Pregnant

During your pregnancy, you should limit oily fish to once a week, and only 2 tuna steaks or 4 medium sized cans of tuna per week, because of the risk of pollution.

You should also avoid the following food groups:

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  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized cheese
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Pâté
  • Swordfish, shark, and marlin
  • Homemade ice-cream with raw egg
  • Soft-serve ice cream from vans or kiosks
  • Vitamin A supplements
  • Liquorice root
  • Alcohol

When You’re Breastfeeding

While you are breastfeeding, your body needs more calcium (1250mg), selenium (70mcg), and iodine (200mcg). Ensure that you include these in your meal plan.

When Going Through Menopause

Menopause

changes your long-term risk of disease, so it is important to focus on items that help support bone and heart health. The framework above already sets out a diet to support long term heart health, but for bone health aim for:

  • 1200mg calcium per day
  • High-quality protein at every meal
  • Foods rich in vitamin K
  • Foods rich in phosphorus
  • Foods rich in magnesium

Organizing Your Shopping

Once you have completed your healthy meal plan for the week, you can save the ingredients that you regularly need to an online shopping list, in order to make repeat ordering simpler. Some recipe books also now have a QR code so that you can easily synchronize the ingredients needed with your online shopping.

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Try to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible, but canned beans, frozen, dried, and freeze dried fruit make great substitutes for fresh, retaining most of the nutrients.

Final Thoughts

Creating a healthy meal plan for the week may be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become a fun addition to your weekly planning, and one that will ultimately improve your overall lifestyle. Try to use the general feedback above and adapt it to your own specific needs. Enjoy looking for new and exciting recipes to include in your plan!

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Featured photo credit: Ello via unsplash.com

Reference

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