9 Ways to Stop Yourself from Overeating

by Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, LDN
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9 Ways to Stop Yourself from Overeating

If you haven’t read the first post in this series, The Simple Tool That Can Help Prevent Overeating, start there to give yourself more background information for this article. Once you’ve recalibrated your body with balanced nutrition and understand the concepts of the Hunger Scale, you are ready to tackle these next steps in becoming an intuitive eater and preventing yourself from overeating by honoring your hunger cues.

1. Clear distractions. Turn off the TV, get away from the computer and turn your cell phone on silent. It’s hard to tune into your body’s quiet cues with digital distractions making noise and taking our focus off of the task at hand: eating. Sit at the table with a chair and a plate to put yourself in a good environment and mind-set for eating intuitively.

2. Drink water or iced tea before a meal. Filling your stomach with a glass of water or tea can take the edge off of hunger so that you don’t rush into your meal and eat too fast.

3. Eat when you’re hungry … not starving. Beginning a meal at a 3 instead of a 2 or 1 on the Hunger Scale is key to getting in touch with your intuitive self. If you’re too hungry, it’s easy to go from starving to stuffed in a matter of minutes.

4. Determine your hunger level before a meal. Before you take that first bite, rate your hunger on a scale from 0–10 with 0 being starving and 10 being stuffed (see our Hunger Scale for more). If you rate yourself “overly hungry,” be extra careful about how fast you are eating and recognize that it may be easier to overeat. Take it slow so you don’t pass the “satisfaction” point without even noticing.

5. Engage your senses. Enjoy the sensual aspect of food. Does your food have visual appeal? Notice the colors and arrangement of the food on the plate. What does it smell like? Does it remind you of anything? Enjoy that moment. Take a bite, and savor the taste, flavor and texture of the food. Make mental notes of the experience, or even talk about these qualities with the person you’re dining with. It makes the meal much more enjoyable, and you’ll find that you begin to notice fullness more easily.

6. Take a time-out. During the meal, pause and put your fork down. This gives you more time to pace yourself and check in to gauge how full you are. Engage in conversation if you are with someone. Take several deep breaths, and drink some water. Repeat this several times during the meal. It may be smart to give yourself visual reminders, after you have finished a quarter of your food, to set the fork down and so forth.

7. Determine your level of satisfaction midmeal. It’s easy to recognize when your plate or bowl is half empty, so use this midway point to your advantage. When you are halfway through with your meal, stop eating and give yourself a hunger-fullness rating. Ask yourself, “How many more bites do I need to satisfy my hunger?”

8. Assess your fullness post-meal. When you are finished with your meal, rate your level of fullness. If you passed by “satisfaction” and are “full” or nearing uncomfortable, assess the cause. Did you just really love the food? Were you overly hungry, and you ate too fast? If you’ve finished your meal and you don’t feel physically satisfied, assess if you had a balance of nutrients—carbs, fats and proteins. Give yourself permission to get more food if you’re still hungry, and trust that as long as you are eating what your body truly needs you are not overeating. The only caveat is that you make sure your hunger is truly physical and not emotional.

9. Give yourself time. Remember that relearning to eat intuitively takes time, and for some people it can take a long time. Recalibrating your hunger and fullness can be a process of a month to several months. Also, know that it’s common to become familiar with hunger faster than it is with fullness. Distinguishing the subtle changes between satisfied and full can take longer to develop and put into practice.

If you’d like to learn more about intuitive eating, engage a counselor and/or registered dietitian to help with the process. It can be reassuring to discuss the symptoms you are feeling and your intuitive-eating journey with someone who is trained in this area.

Related

  • Barbara Charles

    These are all great ideas on how to stay focused on the task at hand – the nutrition in the meal. Very good recommendations! Thanks.

  • Even though in full I still will eat crunchy 3pcs toast at night at my bed 🙁

    • kc

      Lol toast is just too good! I try to stay away but have my moments ofc

  • GazB

    I got a great idea for stopping me overeating… Don’t put PIZZA on my
    start page! 🙁 Especially as we can’t change the start page to my diary
    and skip straight to the diary… 🙁

    • Kathleen

      Good thinking!why do diet articles so often do that sort of thing?

  • Ulkesh

    Great tips, however I would suggest little change. Before ,during or after lunch avoid water or ice tea. Instead take fresh fruit juice. If you drink water or any soft drink that impacts your digestion system this happened as acids that play role in digestion get diluted and cause many other problems.

  • Hi Kristina,
    One thing I would add would be just to eat more slowly. Mindful eating is incredibly important in avoiding overeating. Chewing more slowly and being more aware of your body is the biggest benefit. Have you read any about mindful eating?

  • I know these are well-researched techniques but I have a hard time with slowing down my chewing (it seems weird) and just eating with out doing anything else (makes a meal very boring). What does help me is to eat slower by spacing out the courses – eat a salad, take a 5-10 min break, eat an smallish entree, take a break, eat something sweet – maybe some fruit or a piece of candy. Between courses I may be reading a magazine or online blog, checking facebook, or listening to music. For breakfast I often eat a piece or two of toast and after I get to my desk at work I eat a banana or other fruit.

    • Amy

      I have the same problem, and that seems to help me too. Instead of eating oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, I’ll eat the oatmeal and then an hour later I’ll eat the fruit. Same with lunch I’ll eat some veggies wait and then a sandwich. Dinner I have all at once so I feel full and don’t eat after 6pm. This method seems to work for me best

  • Jacques Cortelyou

    This is Psychotic advice, this person’s credibility is questionable. Junk science.

  • Des

    What also helps is if eating out to share a meal. This is of course with a partner, spouse, or close friend and you both agree on the meal. My husband and I love to eat out on occasion as a treat however both of us are conscious of our calories. This allows us to enjoy a nice occasional meal out with less guilt.

  • Emily

    Drinking iced tea or water before a meal is terrible advice. Why is this outdated information still being desseminated? It slows your digestion down and dilutes your stomach acid, making food more difficult to digest. This will not enhance weight loss to slow down digestion! Drink hot water or tea with a meal and wait a couple of hours to drink cold water before eating and after a meal.

    While drinking cold water does speed up your metabolism (about 4 extra calories per 8 ounces of water), it does so by using energy to heat up the cold water to body temperature. This diverts energy that should be used for digestion. When you are eating, you want all your energy directed at breaking down food so your body can easily assimilate the nutrients and eliminate waste. When you have bad digestion – you could actually gain weight in the long run, because toxins can be built up in your digestive organs which can inhibit the body’s ability to breakdown fat, cause insatiable cravings and mess with your body’s ability to determine if you are full or not.

    I know many times people when they think they are hungry, they are actually thirsty. But the consumption of massive amounts of fluids with meals isn’t going to help.

  • Greg Dahlen

    what’s currently working for me is to only eat when I’m hungry and not to eat when it would hurt my stomach to put more in. It seems to work out to about one big meal a day and water the rest of the day. But it can vary. Once I went three days only living on water because I did feel sufficiently full.
    Stats: 6’1″, 168 pounds