When it comes to seasonal weight gain, many of us blame the nonstop stream of holidays from Halloween to Thanksgiving and all the way through to the end of the year. After all, it seems impossible not to eat too much when there are so many festive dinners and parties to attend. Unfortunately, many people turn to crash diets and juice cleanses to try to get back on track in January. Learning how to stop overeating means staying away from those panic diets and getting in touch with your mind and body.
Dieting Isn't the Lone Solution
If overeating caused you to gain weight, then undereating must initiate weight loss, right? Not necessarily. While the diets and cleanses circulating around the Internet will reduce your caloric intake, they aren't effective means of lasting weight loss. Temporary solutions are usually so low in calories that they can actually cause the body to hold on to fat, making weight loss difficult and leading to more weight gain once you stop the plan.
Furthermore, such diets often provide an unbalanced array of nutrients and put you at risk for deficiencies over an extended period. Severe calorie deprivation also puts you at greater risk for the binging and irritability that can sabotage your weight-loss goals during a weak moment.
It's All About Mindfulness
Overeating occurs when you aren't mindful about what you put into your body. To develop a healthier approach, you need to connect your mind and your body. This will provide the cues you need to avoid eating too much. Here are some specific tips that will help you think as you eat:
- Know what goes into a balanced diet. By eating a more balanced diet, you'll eat in a healthier manner and naturally decrease your caloric intake. Refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate for a visual.
- Check in with yourself before meals. How are you feeling? How hungry are you? Allow the answers to these questions to dictate your eating experience.
- Eat more slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive satiety signals from your stomach. By eating more slowly, you'll be able to register those signals before you go in for seconds. Tips for slowing down include sitting down to eat with a loved one (so you're more likely to engage in conversation), avoiding eating in front of the TV, and even trying to eat with chopsticks or your nondominant hand.
- Notice how you normally feel after eating. Can you go for a walk comfortably? If not, then you're eating too much in one sitting.
- Try a reasonably sized, healthy snack between meals. This is a good tactic if you often find yourself ravenous at mealtime. Snacking will help you avoiding overdoing it at the next meal.
- Drink water. Sometimes, your body thinks you're hungry when you're really just thirsty.
If you feel you've been eating too much over the last few months, it's important to know why you shouldn't turn to dieting or cleansing as your first solution. By practicing mindful eating, you'll learn how to stop overeating, and also how to maintain a consistently healthy diet and set a precedent for a healthier future, too!