You exercise regularly, eat the right stuff, and yet you're still not meeting your weight loss goals. You could be overeating without even realizing it. Two typical signs of overeating are:
1. You start eating when there is no physiological need to eat. In other words, you're not really hungry.
2. You eat too much during a meal or snack. In other words, you don't stop when you're truly full.
Not only does overeating mess with your weight loss goals but it also leads to low energy and fatigue. Have you ever felt invigorated or energized after eating too much? Quite the contrary! After overeating, the body is in overdrive, concentrating much of its energy on digestion and absorption of large portions of food.
Many factors are involved in overeating. For example, foods high in sugar and salt can boost appetite and tempt you to overeat. Our understanding and interpretation of internal cues also plays a role. Finally, you may be a slave to environmental cues and behavioral patterns left unchecked without even knowing it.
It may help to take a moment and analyze two aspects of the behavioral side of your diet.
Ask yourself, "Do I look at my food when I'm eating a meal?"
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition calls it attentive eating. This requires stopping everything you're doing and simply eating. Focus on the food you're about to put in your mouth. Eat with your eyes, too. Enjoy the eating experience. Research shows that this simple change can prevent overeating.
You may have to disconnect, unplug, or turn off any devices or screens around you. A different study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that television watching increased food intake because it distracted the participants' attention from what they were eating.
Have you ever eaten in the dark? A research study published in the journal Appetite did just that with 64 research subjects. They found that eating in the dark caused participants to eat 36% more food without even realizing it. Clearly, having a visual connection with your food while eating can prevent overeating.
Far from being a burden, you'll find that this simple trick of “attentive eating” will enhance your eating experience. Research participants attest to this. Focusing on the sea of flavors in your plate and palate will enhance the pleasure of your meals.
What does your memory have to do with overeating? Well, like your memory, your appetite is formed in your mind (not just your stomach). Research published in the journal Appetite shows that memory plays an important role in appetite control. The more vivid your memory of recent meals is, the less likely you are to overeat.
If you were asked to recall everything you ate so far today, would you be able to write it all down? One study asked half of its participants to recall what they ate for lunch 5 minutes prior to eating dinner. The other half performed no mental activity prior to eating. Participants who recalled their lunch before eating ate less.