This article was originally published on Buzz.com. Pigging out, binge eating, stuffing your face, whatever you want to call it, when dieting, overeating always seems to rear its ugly head and for many always becomes part and parcel of weight-loss strategy. You start with all the good intentions, stick to the rules but then, bang, it happens and you find that you’ve managed to demolish a packet of cookies in less than 10 minutes flat.
The thing is, you can learn to spot the triggers of binge eating and overeating then employ a few little strategies to make sure you don’t get tempted to overeat. Once you know these flash points and how to manage them your diet can stay binge free.
Alternatively you may not even be aware of the fact that you are overeating, just piling in the food like you always do. As a helping hand we’ve highlighted the top 10 things that could be causing you to overeat.
Even the best of friends can become your diet enemy and act as saboteurs. Say you are out with a few friends for lunch, you’ll often find it’s really difficult to say no, or not go for a healthy option when your mates are piling on the fried food and encouraging you on to do the same. You’ve got to remember it’s your body and the reason why you want to lose weight is to feel better about yourself, it’s not for them. And you’ll see that after a few occasions that they’ll just naturally accept your choices and maybe even start doing the same.
It’s time to look at your crockery — as it could be a major contributor as to why you are overeating at every meal. Dinner plates, as with portions seem to have got bigger and bigger, it’s just trendy to serve food on massive white plates in restaurants but in the domestic situation this can bring about huge portions. So, try shrinking down your plate — swap your normal one for a slightly smaller one, give it a go for a week and how it affects your food intake.
Food is often used as a pick up when we are feeling tired and the thing is symptoms of tiredness can actually be mistaken for hunger. First off you need to get into a good sleeping routine; the optimum time to sleep has been found to be between seven to eight hours so make sure you are getting your quota. Also think about the times when you feel tired the most, is it a mid afternoon slump or maybe just when you get in from work? Once you establish a pattern of when you tend to feel tired you can combat it by going for healthier snacks rather than raiding the vending machine to give you a perk up.
So many people overeat to fill time simply because they’re bored or do not have anything interesting to do or look forward to. And when people are bored they tend to park themselves in front of the TV which can inevitably lead to snacking. It’s the same if you feel unfulfilled by your job — lack of motivation in the workplace probably accounts for a massive percentage of cafeteria sales. Obviously you need to focus on the root of the problem, if it’s at home find alternative things to do; call someone, go online, read a magazine — anything that stops you from heading to the fridge. And if it’s at work — maybe ask for more responsibility, take on additional projects or even ask yourself if it’s time for a change.
You’ve drunk too much
As well as adding to your daily calorie count, a few alcoholic drinks before you eat can really mess with your appetite and can stop you recognizing that you are full. After a couple of drinks you are more likely to reach for the salty, fatty snacks which in turn make you drink more alcohol to quench your thirst — and so the spiral continues. Also under the influence of alcohol it’s harder for you to recognize the feeling of being full and satisfied and so you keep eating. If you are planning on having a drink — match every alcoholic drink with a glass of water, lay off the nibbles or go for the healthier option and only have one plateful of food, no seconds until you have been eating for about 20 minutes and then decide if you want more.
You’ve not drunk enough
On the flipside, drinking too little (non-alcoholic drinks that is) can cause you to overeat too as the symptoms of thirst can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. The daily recommended amount of water drink is around eight glasses, but the idea is not to knock them back all in one go. The best strategy is to stagger it throughout the day, taking small sips and often. If that’s too much for you to manage then start with making sure you drink a glass of water before every meal, one when you get up and one before you go to bed. That way you will have clocked up five of the recommended eight without thinking about it too much.
Eating too quickly
How long does it take you to eat a meal, five, ten, 15 minutes? If you can clear your plate in less than 20 minutes then you could be at risk of overeating as it takes that long for your body to recognize it’s full. The key is to eat slowly and really savor your food, and there are a few strategies that can help you to slow down your eating. You can chew your food for a set amount of times which also benefits digestion too, or you can make a point of putting your cutlery down between mouthfuls and not load up your fork before you’ve swallowed what’s in your mouth first.
You’ve already broken your diet
For many, a bout of overeating or binging can be brought about because you’ve had a little slip up with your diet, maybe eating a cookie or a few chips which triggers the ‘Well, I might as well go for it now’ thought process. This is when you need employ that willpower and stop, recognize that one little mistake (i.e. one cookie) is much better for you than the whole packet.
You feel deprived
There’s nothing worse that feeling like you are missing out on all the good stuff you love and for many the word ‘dieting’ conjures up images of living on solely lettuce leaves and muesli. It’s okay, you don’t have to accept a diet of dust for the rest of your days if you want to shift some timber or have healthier diet. Ruling out certain foods will just make you crave more — which can inevitably lead to eating more. The way around this is set yourself a treat day, a day where you can have one of the ‘forbidden’ foods. Having something to look forward to will help you take your mind of food cravings day-to-day and will help you feel like you are not missing out.
You’ll start your diet tomorrow
“I’ll start the diet tomorrow”, how many times have you said it to yourself? The thing is this actually isn’t the case at all, as by saying you are starting the diet tomorrow, you are actually saying to yourself you can eat whatever you want today. And inevitably on the eve of a new diet (if it comes to fruition or not) you’ll tend to overeat to compensate. The thing is tomorrow never comes, if you perpetually put off a better eating plan, overeating will become the norm and those jeans will just get tighter.