How many times have you promised yourself that you’d eat a little bit better, only to make a conscious decision, just a few hours later, to eat until you’re well past the point of being full? Let’s face it, we all love food… a lot. But that shouldn’t get in the way of good health — especially when you know it’s time to stop eating.
Desiree Nielsen, a registered dietitian and the host of The Urban Vegetarian (Fridays at 6:30 a.m. ET), gave us some helpful tips on how to stop overeating. So if you’re done with binging and shaming yourself after, here’s how to regain some of that control.
Eat more whole foods.
Drop the plate of cookies and cut up some fresh veggies or fruit to take its place. If you’re hungry, you’re not going to get full on junk as fast as you will on produce (thanks to all the water that produce is filled with), so you may want to reconsider what type of food you choose to binge on.
“Eat more real foods.” Nielsen explained. “The more we eat those real, whole foods, the more we get filled up… particularly [from] plants, fruits, nuts [and] beans.”
Get pleasure from the junk that you do eat.
“We give food more control over us than we should, and I think a lot of that stems from a sense of guilt and anxiety over food choice,” Nielsen said. “If you want a piece of cheesecake, go for it,you enjoy that piece of cheesecake. But the key is enjoy it. Be mindful of that experience, reap as much pleasure as you can out of eating that piece of cheesecake, and then put it aside.”
If you stop shaming yourself for eating an unhealthy thing and really let it hit the spot, it’ll be easier to make a healthier choice later on in the day.
Stop trying to label your meals as good or bad.
“I truly believe that we should stop judging our food choices and fitting them into little boxes as good or bad,” she told us.
The more you try to stick to the “good” foods, the more you beat yourself up when you eat something “bad” — and that means you’ll start getting anxious about what you eat. There’s no shame in eating a burger, or a slice of cake. According to Nielsen, the most successful diets are the ones where you don’t get anxious about what you eat.
Don’t just make your portions smaller.
“One of the biggest mistakes that people make when managing their weight is thinking that the portions just get smaller — because smaller portions of the wrong kinds of food just lead you to become hungry… and think about food all the time,” Nielsen said. “So, if we’re trying to eat smaller portions of potato chips, which aren’t a filling food, it’s a loosing battle.”
And let’s be honest, we’ve all been there: with an empty, family-sized bag of potato chips sitting on our laps, wondering where it all went.
“When you eat [a lot of ] filling plants, you don’t have to feel bad about it. It’s about food type. It’s about making food choices that are super healthy that are high in volume that will fill you up, because being hungry will derail you,” she noted.
Always fill half of your plate with veggies.
“One of my tricks is to fill up half of your plate with vegetables, whenever you eat. Whatever you want on the other side of that plate is fine, but when half of your plate is [full of] vegetables, it will fill you up,” explained Nielsen.
So whether you’re eating steak, stew or chicken, make sure you eat half a plate full of veggies before going back for seconds.
Turn off all screens.
According to Nielsen, “One of the things… people don’t think about is mindfulness during meal time. Don’t eat in front of your phones, don’t eat in front of the television, don’t look at the screens… [just] focus.”
When you eat without paying attention to what you’re putting into your body, it’s harder to process how much your eating. Give yourself time to enjoy the food and get full.
Eat with chopsticks.
“If you really want to challenge yourself, use chopsticks,” suggested Nielsen. “It forces you to think at meal time, and the more you’re present, the more you’ll slow your body down and feel full.”
Seems easy enough, right?
“Balance exists in a healthy life, and the less anxiety we have over our food choice, the less control we will feel. We get into this deprivation, guilt, anxiety, shame and binge spiral. The way to circumvent that is instead of saying ‘I will never have this again’ or ‘I should never have this again’, say ‘it all fits,'” she said.
The trick to stopping yourself from overeating isn’t convincing yourself to not eat something, but rather, it’s to focus on what you’re eating and fill up on healthier things.
Catch Desiree Nielsen every Friday at 6:30 a.m. ET on The Urban Vegetarian.