I don't know about you, but sometimes I eat more than I need. Why do people overeat? How have portion sizes changed? And how can we moderate our food intake?
Some of us eat that little bit extra, even when we're not hungry. Why? The causes are often emotional. The pleasure of eating can temporarily take our minds away from dark pockets of dissatisfaction.
The unpleasant side effects of overeating are not only physical (lethargy, poor digestion, gas and weight gain). Guilt and remorse can arise when we let the old emotional eating habit over-rule the healthy aspiration.
I collected a habit from my dear Dad, who always used to have 'just a little bit more for nice'. This thought pattern no longer serves me and now I am actively changing it. The old habit feels like cumbersome luggage rather than 'nice'.
Ultimately that extra serving is contributing to growing girths. Not immediately, but in slow increments over years until whoops, we hit middle age with a few extra rolls around the middle. In the US obesity has increased by approximately 15% from 1971 to 1999. Portion sizes have grown accordingly.
Let's be clear. A little cushioning may be a natural acquisition as we age. The big questions are whether we stay fit, healthy and most of all content with our bodies. One good friend of mine hit menopause and realized that she could have seconds and keep growing or change her ways. Now she rarely has second helpings, feels and looks wonderful.
Portion sizes have changed, and so have perceptions of normal portion size. In one study young adults chose items for each meal. Compared to a similar study 20 years ago some portions were up to 40% larger.
Eating 'just enough' contributes to good health. Chinese medicine has always recommended slightly under-eating. Studies show that nutrient dense food in smaller portions contributes to longevity. My husband's 100 year old great great grandmother said, "I always leave the table feeling like I could have eaten a little bit more."
I know I feel more energised and emotional content, when I enjoy my meal and stop before that extra serving. For me this takes awareness and commitment to my total wellbeing.
So how can we stop eating before feeling over-full? Here are ten helpful hints to moderate portion size
1) Be free of emotional eating and over-eating. I find EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique ) brilliant for this. There are many excellent therapists using effective techniques to discover the real reasons for the habit, and providing tools to heal.
2) Sit down when you eat. Eating at the bench or from the fridge is a sure way to over-eat. Put reminder post-it notes on the fridge until you have established a new pattern.
3) Serve yourself. Adults take less when they serve themselves.
4) Serve your meal in the kitchen rather than from dishes on the table. This gives you a chance to feel whether you need more. It may also prevent the chance of unnecessary seconds.
5) Use slightly smaller plates. This makes a huge difference to portion size, but is unlikely to change satisfaction levels. One of my clients used this technique for her overweight husband. They used smaller plates for every meal, his weight dropped off, and his heart health improved.
6) Be mindful. Slow down. Perhaps sit and just breathe for 3 long breaths. Allow yourself to arrive before digging in.
7) Include protein with your meal. Protein slows down the digestion of carbohydrate. Having a balanced meal including protein, healthy fats, and whole food carbohydrates provides increased satiation.
8) Minimise refined carbohydrates. Processed foods like sugar and white flour products make you want to eat more, because the body is still craving nutrients. Eat whole foods.
9) Eat with kindness. Be gentle with your body as you eat, and imagine the food as healing medicine.
10) Cultivate Gratitude. Say a grace appropriate for your family. Gratitude increases happiness. Happiness supports healthy digestion.
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