I admit it: like millions of other incredibly thoughtful sons, I had waaay too many waffles at the Mother’s Day brunch buffet.
Binges like this won’t hurt if they happen once in a blue moon. Regular overeating, however, is another matter. The many health risks associated with weight gain present obvious concerns, but there are plenty of others: high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, depression and, in severe cases, kidney disease, arthritis, bone deterioration and stroke. If these aren’t reasons enough to prune portions, consider that overeating is expensive, too.
As with many unhealthy habits, the road to mealtime moderation starts with self-awareness and understanding. Stress, boredom, social acceptance, the availability of food, finding happiness and comfort through eating – all fuel the urge to overindulge. Once you recognize the root causes, taking action is the next step. That’s where these eight hacks step in:
1) Eat well all day
Skipping breakfast on Mother’s Day led to at least three extra waffles. Missing meals, or filling the void with easy, empty calories, will make you especially hungry when dinner (or brunch) rolls around.
2) Trash trigger foods
Do you always go for a second slice of apple pie? Are French fries your greatest weakness? If so, leave the pie and fries off shopping lists, and make sure your household’s designated shopper does, too.
3) Drown your hunger
Drinking a glass of water before meals fills your stomach and curbs the urge to splurge.
4) Slow down
You don’t feel full the instant you swallow. Eating slowly and taking more time to chew gives food-satisfaction signals enough time to reach your brain.
5) Focus on the food
Distracted eating – while driving or working at a desk, for example – also stunts those food satisfaction signals and makes it tough to keep track of how much is actually going down the hatch.
6) First bites are best
Savouring the first few bites will help you stop eating when you feel full.
7) Looks count
Using smaller plates and focusing on meal presentation will make you more aware of how much food is in front of you.
8) Choose filling foods
Dense, calorie-rich foods such as chocolate and cheese don’t fill you up and pack on the pounds. Foods that are rich in fibre and protein, or high in water content (such as fruits and vegetables), will fill you up while keeping calories down. (At least my Mother’s Day waffle binge came with plenty of strawberries.)
If you’re a reformed overeater I’d love to hear what got you there in the comments below. And be sure to share this post with friends and family who need help with waffl…er…portion control.
About Adam: Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has covered health and wellness for publications such as the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Canadian Family magazine. He’s married, has two young daughters, and is doing his best to live a healthier life.