Right now, someone or something is probably telling you to eat — subtly or blatantly. You’re bombarded by seductive images on TV, billboards and even the Internet showing food, soda, and other high-calorie treats going hand-in-hand with good times. On cue, your mouth starts watering, your belly rumbles, and you’re mindlessly reaching for a bag of chips.
Babies have the right idea. Still pure of mind, they eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. But somewhere after toddlerhood, we lose touch with that inner voice that tells us we’re satisfied. We start eating for fun, pleasure, boredom, or when we’re upset, lonely or sad. And often, we eat until we’re stuffed.
Supersize Satisfaction, Not Quantity
Our super-sized culture hasn’t helped either. It’s hard to recognize what a normal serving size is supposed to look like anymore because everything from bagels to fries to sodas has ballooned to gargantuan proportions.
So what’s the secret to stop overeating, besides putting your kitchen on lockdown? You can take several steps to tame the hunger beast and prevent you from overeating.
1. Drink water before and during a meal. This simple step can take the edge off a wayward appetite and help you feel fuller before you even start eating.
2. Start with soup. Eating soup is a good way to feel satisfied before your main meal. Research from Pennsylvania State University shows people who eat soup before meals reduced the total calorie intake of their meal about 20 percent. The key is to choose low-calorie, broth-based soups that are about 100 to 150 calories per serving.
3. Slow down. On average, it takes about 15 minutes for foodsatisfaction signals to reach the brain. If you take your time eating, your brain will get the “no vacancy” message from your stomach before you reach for a second serving.
4. Get your head in the game. When you’re eating, focus on the food. Don’t allow distractions like driving, reading or Internet surfing to keep your brain from tallying up the food or calories you’re consuming. Paying attention to what you’re eating means you’ll feel more satisfied, and recognize the fullness factor sooner.
5. Shrink your plate. Serve your meal on a smaller plate. With less room for food, you’ll not only eat less, but in time your brain will be tricked into thinking the food is a satisfying amount.
6. Satisfy the stomach. Choose foods with high water content, lots of protein, and plenty of fiber. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, beans, popcorn and whole-grain bread are filling and satisfying with relatively few calories. On the other hand, chips, candy bars and white bread are packed with calories and don’t keep you satisfied.