Do you have problems getting your eating under control while trying to lose weight? If so, you certainly are not alone. This is a common problem for many people. Research indicates that approximately 97 percent of people actually eat between meals.
Snacking between meals can have a devastating effect on your weight loss plans, however. Below, we explore some tips that can help you to get your eating under control.
Try Eating More Frequently
While it might seem counterproductive, one of the best steps you can take to get your eating under control is to actually snack throughout the day. One of the most common problems that many people have when trying to lose weight is that they tend to skip meals or wait until they are extremely hungry to eat.
This can result in blood sugar spikes and a tendency to overeat. The best course of action is to eat several small meals per day or munch on healthy snacks between meals. Nuts are a great option because they are not digested quickly, which means they help you to feel full longer.
Planning ahead can help to ensure you have a supply of healthy snacks and avoid the tendency to reach for unhealthy options. For example, make a point of cutting up some veggies the night before and pack them in a convenient snack-size plastic bag. Bring the bag with you the next day so you will have something healthy handy when hunger does strike.
Make Your Own Snack Bags
Prepacking your portions is actually a great way to ensure you do not overeat. Rather than overspending on those 100-calorie bags, make your own by counting out a 100 calories worth of pretzels or crackers and then store them in small plastic bags.
This can be particularly helpful if you are on the road frequently and have a tendency to snack on fast food while traveling.
Avoid Mindless Eating
Try to avoid mindless eating by paying attention when you are snacking. It can be quite easy to overeat when you are distracted by something else, so avoid eating while watching TV or on your phone.
Avoid Drinking Your Calories
Consider whether you are drinking too many calories. While it is important to make certain you stay hydrated, especially when working out, many people consume too many calories from their beverages. Avoid sugary drinks whenever possible.
Tea, coffee, and water are all fine, but if you are adding anything to your drinks, you can quickly pack on calories and pounds without even realizing it. Go light on fruit juice, which has a hefty sugar content. Instead, opt for whole fruit, which has healthy fiber to fill you up.
Are You Really Hungry?
When you do feel like eating, question whether you are really hungry. It could be that you are bored, stressed, or possibly even thirsty. Many people actually mistake thirst for hunger. Try drinking a glass of water first and see if you still feel hungry. If you still feel the need to eat, consider whether it could be emotional eating to deal with stress.
Be Aware of Emotional Eating
Emotional eating occurs anytime you turn to food for stress relief, comfort, or as a type of reward. When the urge to eat due to emotional eating strikes, it can be all you think about and become almost an obsession. Understanding emotional eating can help you to deal with this problem and put a stop to it so it doesn’t wreck your weight loss goals.
Eating should never become a coping mechanism for feeling stressed, lonely, angry, bored, or exhausted. While eating might feel good at the moment, the feelings behind the hunger will still be there. In most cases, you will feel even worse later.
Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Major life events or, more commonly, the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts – Mayo Clinic
Before giving into your cravings, think about whether you really want to eat or whether you are simply trying to resolve a problem by using food. If you continue to experience cravings, try to ride it out for the next 15 or 20 minutes to see if the craving goes away. Try reading, going for a walk, or occupying yourself with some other activity.
Is it Actual Hunger or Emotional Hunger?
Still not sure if it is actual hunger or emotional hunger? How can you tell the difference? Consider that emotional hunger tends to come on suddenly and often results in cravings for specific types of comfort foods.
When you are craving food as a result of emotional hunger, you likely won’t experience pangs or growling in the stomach. Instead, you will be focused on specific smells, tastes, or textures.
How to Practice Mindful Eating
Practicing mindful eating can go a long way toward helping you to control your eating and avoid emotional eating. Always begin with a small portion and take the time to truly appreciate your food. Take small bites and chew thoroughly. Eat slowly rather than trying to bolt down your food as fast as possible.
Eating should be something to be enjoyed, not avoided, but it is important to take control of your eating to reach your weight loss goals and live a healthy lifestyle.