How to stop overeating once and for all

When you consume your food in some sort of trance, you don’t enjoy your meals and it leads to overeating. Whether you eat while watching your favorite TV show or scrolling through your Facebook page – anytime your brain is elsewhere when you eat, you’re munching mindlessly, which is a straight path to going overboard on calories. Specialists call this ‘zombie eating’. It’s eating when we’re not tuned-in. This way we eventually consume more than our body actually needs. Research shows that focusing completely on your meal can help with weight loss and lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

1. You mix mealtime with screen time

When we’re watching TV, that gets our attention. So we’re not tasting or enjoying food, we’re not aware of how full we are. The simplest and most effective steps you can take: turn off the TV when you’re eating and separate your dining area from your media space. Set up an environment that reminds you you’re here for a meal, it will help you notice every bite you take.

2. You’re addictive to desk snacks

You don’t even notice how you’re gaining calories when eating these cookies or chocolate bars stashed in your desk drawer. Store all your office snacks at least 6 feet away. The distance gives you a chance to consider whether you’re hungry enough for the treat and prevents your hands from lingering in a snack drawer while you’re all-consumed by work. The trick can also help you eat about 60% fewer calories, according to another Food and Brand Lab study.


3. You like to chat and chew

It’s a common habit – to fall deep into conversation over a pasta dinner or laugh with girlfriends over a table of appetizers. We get distracted, the food tastes good, and we put it in our mouths automatically. When you are about to eat, first assess how hungry you are, then create a so-called speed bump. For example, divide your sandwich in half, or simply envision a halfway point. And when you hit your speed bump, pause and ask yourself whether you’re enjoying your food and whether you’re full. Also put your fork down after each bite so you can distinguish between talk time and chew time. It reminds you to focus on the conversation before picking up your fork again.

4. You don’t have a proper lunch break

Often we don’t have time to have a proper lunch. But inhaling meals at your desk is deadly for your waistline and your work. First, it may set up a Pavlovian response, in which you crave food whenever you’re working. For example, if you eat while you’re answering email, later simply being in front of the computer can make you want to eat. Also your work productivity will increase if you take short breaks. On those especially busy days when you can’t go outside or to the cafeteria to have lunch, find a table separate from your work area. Another option is to turn your chair away so you can’t see your open screen and pile of papers. And of course, power off all electronic devices that could distract you. Then give yourself at least one to two minutes of true focus – this way you’ll set the tone for the rest of the meal.

5. You drive and drink

You driving and sipping your favorite coffee drink, a green juice or a smoothie. Sounds familiar? Then you’re drinking on autopilot. And because you’re not actively chewing something, it’s even easier to lose focus. Later people can’t remember what they drank. We forget about coffee with whipped cream and sugar or a high-caloric smoothie, but they all can contribute to weight gain. So if you’re going to drive, grab some healthy zero- or low-calorie beverage, such as water, iced black coffee, or unsweetened tea. If you choose a meal-like option (fancy frappé or protein shake), wait and actually watch yourself drink it and recognize whether you’re full or not full yet, even if that means pulling into a parking lot and taking two minutes to enjoy your drink.


6. You’re not connecting with your food

These 5 techniques recommended by different specialists you can use to erase distraction and fully connect with your food whenever you sit down to savor a meal.

 • Say a word of thanks. It alters your mood and puts you in the right frame of mind.

 • Set the intention that you want to feel better when you’re done eating than you did when you started. That’s going to affect every decision you make, from how much food you take to what food you take.

 • Look at the first bite. That pause will help you decide whether you actually want the food.

 • Take five slow breaths, making the exhale longer than the inhale. The exhale is connected to the parasympathetic response. It’s the part of our body that helps us digest food. You can try inhaling for four counts and exhaling for six counts.

 • Pause and think about where the food came from and all the hands that prepared it – this will bring up a natural feeling of gratitude.

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