Five Strategies for Avoiding Overeating
by Melinda D. Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDE
We eat for many different reasons. In an ideal world, we plan ahead, eat when we are hungry and eat just enough to nourish our bodies. However, more often than not, we are triggered by many different cues to eat foods that are not always the best for us and at times when we’re not always hungry. Many of us can be triggered by stress, boredom, social situations or just being around food. What triggers you to eat? Do you tend to eat more when you’re with certain friends? When you’re watching TV? When you’re lonely or feeling blue? Does just the sight of food stimulate you to think you want a snack?
The path to healthy eating begins with developing a better understanding of your usual habits. Even when WHAT you eat is healthy, your good efforts can be sabotaged by HOW you eat. That’s why it’s so important to assess your usual behaviors around food—then you can identify some strategies to help you change those behaviors. Learn about your own habits by using the Food Journal. Download it here and fill it out for 4- 7 days. As you learn more about your own behaviors, you can identify the ones that need to be adjusted… and make gradual changes that will turn into healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Generally, good food habits fall into one of these five categories. Filling out the food journal will help you figure out where you need some better strategies—and we’ll cover specific tips for developing your “skillpower” in each category.
Be self-aware. Being able to assess what situations or people or feelings trigger you is the absolute most important first step towards addressing and solving the issue.
Eat mindfully. Eat slowly and intentionally. Avoid distracted eating (such as eating while watching TV). Savor the flavors. Notice the tastes.
Adjust your environment. Make the healthy choice the easy choice. Small adjustments to your surroundings, including your office or the commute route, can have a big impact to help you make better choices.
Plan ahead. By planning menus, shopping lists, list of activities if you’re bored and want to eat, and pre-packing snacks, you can reduce the risks of either overeating or eating foods that you’re trying to limit.
Set yourself up for success. Get a meal plan. Set up an appointment with a dietitian. Talk with your friends and family regarding how they can be supportive
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