Best of Intentions
It happens to all of us. We wake up with the best of intentions. We enjoy a delicious and healthy breakfast, make our meal plan, do our grocery shopping, even get our workout in...and then it happens. The munchies set in. Anything can trigger it; crying kids, a last minute schedule change, stress at work, lack of energy, boredom, and so on.
Just One Small Snack
You start by telling yourself you'll just have a sensible 100 calorie snack. You head to the pantry or fridge and the next thing you know you've dumped in 800 calories and feel that there is no turning back. There's a fork in the road here (no pun intended). You can keep shoveling in the calories or you can stop before the situation gets any worse. Either way, you'll probably be left with regret, a swollen tummy, and a mind repeating the same question over and over again, "Why do I do this to myself?".
How do we avoid this overeating cycle? The best thing for me is to never start it!
Simple Tricks to Avoid Over Eating
1. Prevention: Plan ahead. Schedule your eating. Don't eat anything that is not on your plan and only eat at the times you planned to eat. Use this template to help you plan ahead.
2. Only eat at the table. Sitting in front of the television, standing in the pantry, and nibbling off the kids plates as you prepare them are just a few of the many ways we scarf down hundreds of calories without even realizing what we are doing. Make your meals an "event". Prepare your plate and don't take a single bite until you have sat down at the table.
3. Plan a cheat meal. If your mind believes you can never ever have another "cheat" meal then it will constantly nag you to go ahead and have just one bite of something forbidden. On the contrary though, if your mind knows that you have a treat coming up you will be more likely to stick to your plan and hold off for the cheat meal.
4. Snack. Be sure to plan at least two snacks into your day. Plan your snacks around when you will be preparing food for someone else anyhow. For instance, if you still have kids at home they probably want a snack as soon as they come home from school. Plan your snack for the same time as the kids after school snack. You will be less likely to pick at your kids snacks while you are preparing them If you know that you are also getting a snack for yourself.
5. Grab a cup of coffee. When you feel a binge coming on grab a cup of coffee instead of food. This is a great distraction and with the caffeine jolt you will probably have the energy to get up and get out the kitchen.
6. Plan a treat for the next day. Tell yourself that if you are able to get through today without a binge you can have a treat the next day. Make the treat NON-FOOD. Instead of planning to gorge on pizza the next day, plan a trip to the nail salon or maybe splurge on a new pair of shoes...anything but food.
7. Don't eat after 7 pm. I've heard lots of people say that the majority of their binge eating occurs in the evenings after putting the kids to bed and finally sitting down to some quiet time. If you are like me, you are probably not really hungry at this time but instead stressed and fatigued. We subconsciously try to fight the stress and fatigue by totally vegging out in front of the tv with whatever snack we can get our hands on. This eating in front of the tv is absolutely mindless and absolutely unnecessary. Cut it off! No eating after 7 pm! Instead, try having a cup of sugar free hot cocoa or calming tea.
8. Get plenty of sleep. Your body needs routine and plenty of rest. How much sleep we need varies by individual. I need at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Lots of people I know seem to do fine on just 7 hours. Whatever your magic number is - get it! When you do not sleep enough your body will signal that you are hungry when in fact you are just tired.
9. Water, water, water. When you feel hungry but it's not time to eat again drink 8 oz of water and wait 10-15 minutes. Most likely the hunger will go away.
10. Find something to look forward to. Do you have a reunion coming up? Going to the beach soon? Maybe you have a hot date planned? Find something that is going on in your life that you can look forward to and set a mini goal toward. Tell yourself that you will not eat anything other than your planned meals and snacks until the date of the event. On the date of the event allow yourself a bit of a cheat (but don't overdo it and undo all of the good you've done).
What to do if you lose control and overeat?
These are all great preventative strategies but what do you do when you lose control and go for the binge? Read about what I do in You WAY Overate...What Now? Top 5 Things You Must do to Stop a Binge!