This is what always happened to me whenever I went on a diet. Diet for a week. Lose a bit of weight. Eat more the second week. Gain more weight. Then I go on a diet again.
Until finally, I came to know what was happening to me.
I was starving my body, and on starvation mode, the body reacts with alarm, and suddenly I begin binge eating or overeating. It was not doing me any good. It was, if anything, wreaking havoc with my body.
It was then that I visited a dietician, who gave me these golden rules to stop overeating, to eat sensibly, and to maintain a healthy weight.
10 golden rules to stop overeating and maintain a healthy weight
- Eat your breakfast
No matter how much of a hurry you are in, always, eat your breakfast. A 2005 study published in the journal American society for clinical nutrition found that people who ate breakfast regularly were more likely to shed additional pounds and maintain a healthy body mass index, than those who omitted breakfast. In fact those in the second category tended to eat more during the rest of the day, and as a result gained more weight.
- Stick to eating real food
Eat food that is not processed. This means that you will be eating whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, grass-fed animal products such as poultry and eggs, vegetables and fruits, and avoiding doughnuts, sweetened drinks, candy, sausages, bacon, cakes, pastries and such other food items that are very easily available these days.
- Stop being stressed out
Believe it or not, uncontrolled stress is the biggest culprit in binge eating. The much talked about ‘stress eating’, it seems, is real. Research shows that the hormones released when you are stressed out, and the high sugary comfort foods that you immediately reach out for, may be reason for the obesity epidemic of the modern society. When stressed out, do something you enjoy instead of reaching for your milk chocolate. Go for a walk, and listen to some music. Anything instead of eating.
- Sleep well and sleep enough
Good quality sleep of the right duration according to your age will do wonders to your weight, besides contributing to your overall health. For adults, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is necessary, every single night, to reduce food cravings and get fat-regulating hormones to normal levels.
- Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is to be aware of each mouthful that goes into your mouth, to consciously chew each bit of food, and to know when you have swallowed it. It also means that you eat slowly enough to chew well and multiple times. Quick eaters tend to overeat. Also, do not do anything else, such as reading, surfing the net or watching television while you eat. When you eat, focus your attention on what you eat, and how you eat it. This way, you will feel full early as you are aware of each mouthful that has gone in.
- Exercise regularly
Find your own fun exercises to do and do it every single day. Besides aiding in weight loss and thus keeping your motivation level high, exercising helps you lose weight and maintain your weight loss. It also controls your appetite. Low intensity exercises such as walking for half an hour a day reduces cortisol levels, lowering stress and thus indirectly contributing to decreased eating. Activities such as yoga and tai chi that combine exercise and meditation, have significant benefits in this direction.
- Eat only when hungry
Our lifestyles have incorporated food so much into our daily routine that we eat at our usual meal time whether we are hungry or not. We eat even when the tummy is full. If you eat only when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are not hungry anymore, you will not overeat. One key factor in here is to listen to your body, and to know when you are ‘full’ as opposed to when you are truly hungry. It may take some practice, but over time, you can recognize true hunger from just stress eating or eating out of habit. Also, avoid overeating when you eat in a restaurant. Don’t feel guilty when you have to leave some food uneaten on your plate. If you are not hungry any more, do not eat.
- Snack healthily
Eat healthy snacks in between your main meals. Healthy snacks include almonds, walnuts, fruits, eggs and boiled vegetables. This helps you not to binge eat at your regular meals, and to keep your carbohydrate intake to a minimum. It is a good idea to keep a jar of almonds near your workstation, so that when you feel hungry, you will not be tempted to go to the refrigerator for a scoop of ice cream or the candy jar for a sugary treat.
- Never say ‘just this once’
How many times a week we say ‘I will eat this cake just this once’? Aunts and other elderly relatives are famous for making their loved ones eat sugary desserts ‘just this once’. The problem is that sugar has addictive potential, and our cravings will not stop with ‘just this once’. So, when the craving for sugary high fat food starts, distract yourself with something else that you really love to do; perhaps call a friend, go for a walk or do some gardening. Again, eat only when you are truly hungry.
- More water, less calorie drinks
Keep yourself hydrated with water, and reduce your alcohol, sugary drinks and even fruit juice intake. Dehydration can be felt as hunger, so begin your day with a big glass of water. Set reminders every hour, to drink one glass of water each. Your hunger pangs will magically diminish.
These are tips that will really help you reduce your food cravings, reduce weight and maintain a healthy weight. Do you have any tips to add to these?