The top 5 ways to avoid eating too much food
It is no secret that we have an obesity crisis – the Medical Journal of Australia found that obesity in Australia more than doubled in the two decades preceding 2003 and the unprecedented rise in obesity has been compared to the same health crisis in America. The rise in obesity has been attributed to poor eating habits closely related to the availability of fast food since the 1970s, sedentary lifestyles and a decrease in the labour workforce. But one of the most common reasons is simply eating too much food.
And with the colder weather, we tend to be less active and eat even more than usual and this is the perfect storm for weight gain. So to avoid this happening to you, here are my top 5 practical and personal ways to avoid eating too much:
1. Use smaller plates
The dinner plates we use today are huge. If you visit an antique store, look at the dinnerware – plates, bowls and cups are tiny in comparison which shows just how much more food we are eating today compared to years ago.
Many of us tend to use the size of our plate as a measure of how much we can eat. If we use a large plate, we fill the plate with food and we usually don’t stop eating until the plate is clean (as we have been taught from childhood to finish everything on our plate).
So look at using smaller plates – you will naturally put a smaller amount of food on your plate thus reducing your chance of eating too much. Studies have demonstrated reducing portion sizes is a simple and successful way to cut calories.
2. Reduce the size of your meals
If you don’t want to buy a whole new set of plates and bowls, then just don’t serve yourself as much food compared to what you normally would. One of the easiest ways to avoid putting on too much weight is to simply reduce the amount of food we eat. Our stomach can comfortably hold 1 litre of food but it can hold up to 4 litres when we eat too much. Ouch!
When you go to the supermarket, avoid the larger packages. When getting takeout, ask for the smaller size. Instead of ordering a main course, consider an entree instead. If you love your desserts, think about going halves with someone instead of having one all on your own.
Portion control will allow you to eat all the foods you love - it’s all about moderation. And by look at the ways you can cut down on the serving size you will resist the temptation to overeat.
3. Eating too fast
Some people treat eating food as a race, or they only have a few minutes to eat so they shovel it down their throat as quickly as possible. This is not only an all too easy way to stack on the kilos (as your stomach doesn’t get a chance to tell the brain it has had enough) but it can also cause reflux, indigestion and heartburn.
So put the fork down between mouthfuls and chew slowly. Treat each meal like you are at a fancy restaurant, linger over every spoonful and really enjoy your food.
If you are at work and often eat with co-workers, find the slowest eater at your table and copy their pace. Add conversation to the table and apply the etiquette of not talking with your mouth full. And avoid eating with people you’d rather not be with so you don’t rush to make an escape.
4. Don’t sit in front of the TV
This is a great way to put on weight. You are glued to the screen and you are on autopilot with your eating. In most homes, the television is in the lounge/dining room, in front of the table where you eat dinner. When you watch TV, you are relaxed, you separate yourself from your routine and problems and you submerge into a fictional world. The result being is that you eat more without realising it. Also, being in front of a TV often goes hand in hand with eating unhealthy snacks.
At work, it is all too common to eat lunch in front of the computer to continue working (and I have been guilty of this). Again you don’t realise just how much you are putting in your mouth as you are distracted with looking at the screen in front of you.
So to break this bad habit, sit at the dining table or in the kitchen when you are eating. Take the time out to focus on what you are eating and you are less likely to be distracted and eat too much.
5. Always listen to your body
This is a great trick – after you finish your meal, have some water and wait 20 minutes. Now ask yourself, are you still really hungry or not. It takes approximately 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. After giving it some time, you may find that you don’t actually need that second serving after all. So always listen to your body and brain as it will tell you what to do.