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Four simple ways to stop overeating

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:32 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014 12:00 p.m. CST

Many people strive to adopt healthier lifestyles. A lifestyle that includes routine exercise and a healthy diet can vastly improve quality of life and reduce a person’s risk for various ailments.

Though many people find exercise gets easier the more they do it, that’s not always the case when altering their diet. Adapting to ahealthy diet and smaller portions is a challenge, and many people find themselves overeating as a result. Some people overeat because they’re hungry, while others are simply accustomed to eating large meals. Regardless of why a person overeats, it’s important that people looking to adopt healthier lifestyles avoid consuming more food than their body needs. The following are a few simple ways men and women can curtail their eating habits so they aren’t going overboard at mealtime.

• Stay hydrated. Some people overeat because they mistake the symptoms of dehydration for hunger. It’s easy to make that mistake, as the symptoms of dehydration mimic those of hunger. For example, when a person is thirsty, his or her mouth is dry. Eating can temporarily relieve dry mouth, but that does not necessarily mean a person’s mouth was dry because he or she was hungry. Instead of immediately responding to perceived hunger symptoms by eating, drink a glass of water. If the symptoms subside within 10 minutes, then you were likely dehydrated and not hungry. Staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day can reduce the likelihood that you will confuse dehydration with hunger, which reduces your risk of overeating.

• Eat when you’re hungry. The symptoms of hunger tend to present themselves within five hours of eating a balanced meal. Ignoring these symptoms because you don’t feel as though five hours is a sufficient interval between meals is a mistake. The longer you ignore hunger, the less likely you are to make healthychoices, including eating healthy portions, when you do eat. Even a low-calorie, healthy snack like Greek yogurt or a piece of fruit four to five hours after a meal can sate your appetite and prevent you from overeating when you sit down for your next meal.

• Eat breakfast. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition proved that mom was right when she told you breakfast was the most important meal of the day. The study examined roughly 900 adults and found that those who ate more carbohydrates, fat and protein in the morning were more likely to eat less over the course of the day than those who saved their biggest meals for lunchtime or dinner. Many men and women skip breakfast thanks to hectic mornings dominated by getting the kids ready for school and rushing to work. If time is limited in the morning, keep cereal or instant oatmeal at the office and eat breakfast as you catch up on email or plan your workday.

• Find time for fiber. Fiber is another friend to people who want to stop overeating. Fiber not only helps people feel full faster but also helps them feel full for longer periods of time. The body needs time to process a meal that’s rich in fiber, so you are less likely to feel full shortly after eating a meal that’s high in fiber. In addition, high-fiber foods tend to be high-volume as well, so you will fill up on them without eating lots of calories. That’s a benefit to people looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Overeating is a hurdle many people must clear as they attempt to adopt healthier lifestyles. But a few simple tricks makes it easy to avoid overeating without fighting constant feelings of hunger. 

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