How to Avoid Overeating: Be Present and Accountable

How to Avoid Overeating: Be Present and Accountable

You know better. You know you know better. You’ve heard all about calories in, calories out and you know that overeating is the easiest way to kill a workout (or weight loss) program. However, despite your best intentions, you’ve found yourself overeating again (and again and again). You know you should get a handle on it, but you don’t know how.

Well, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re far from being the only person who sometimes gets uncomfortably close to becoming Templeton at the fair in Charlotte’s Web. So before you wonder again how you blew past your calorie goal or wonder where that whole bag of chips went, take a moment to be in the moment and check out these tips.


keep-calm-and-no-electronicsHave you ever been driving on a road trip or maybe even your commute and realized that you’ve zoned out for part of the drive? Obviously you were driving, but you can’t remember anything about the last few minutes. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to do that while you’re eating, too—take your eyes off the prize and all of a sudden, you’ve eaten way more than you intended.

The trick is to be present. This is perhaps the most important guard against overeating. Zoning out while eating may not be as dangerous as doing it while driving—after all, the only thing that’s going to careen into a tailspin is your diet—but it can be frustrating and an unnecessary obstacle to your fitness goals.

So how do you do it? Well, being present may sound like some airy-fairy nonsense, but really all it means is that you don’t engage in distracted dining. First of all, put your phone away—some families even use a container to store electronics during meals. In addition, don’t eat in front of your computer. You may not get a choice on this if you have to take lunch at your desk, but if you have the option, get some time away. And don’t eat in front of the TV. It’s far too easy to keep shoveling food into your mouth when you’re paying more attention to your streaming queue. Binge-watching is fun, but it can lead to binge-eating , if you’re not careful.


With today’s jam-packed schedules, it can be difficult to find time to sit down and eat, but if you can fit it in, you must. Taking a moment to slow down and pay attention to what you’re eating is a great way to avoid eating too much. If you have a special ritual when you eat—setting a place to eat with proper silverware and an actual plate, not paper or Styrofoam—it tells your brain that it’s time to slow down.


Before you begin to eat, make like you’re in yoga class and take a deep cleansing breath or five. This is another way to signal to yourself that it’s time to take a minute and really be in the moment. After you take your breaths, continue to be present. Pay attention to what you’re eating. Make it a full sensory experience: notice the taste, smell, and texture of your food. Really enjoy what you’re eating and really chew it—don’t just funnel it down. If you’re eating with others, take time to enjoy that full experience as well. Savor the food and the good conversation you’re having. Make it a moment and make it special.


BIG FOOD, LITTLE PLATEMaybe you’re overeating because you’re not satisfied with the food you have. If this is the case for you, here are some tips. First of all, you can try to trick yourself into thinking you’re getting more by using smaller plates. You eat the same amount as before, but the thinking goes, once you see the food crowded together on a smaller plate, you’ll think you’re getting more. Studies have shown that this helps with portion control and feelings of satiety.

And speaking of satiety, make sure you’re actually getting enough. Use a fitness calculator, which you can find online, like at the Mayo Clinic’s site, to figure out how many calories you need to eat to maintain your weight or lose it. If you’d like to get a specific amount of protein or fat or carbs, these calculators can help with that, too.

A little more fat may help, as well. If you’re not feeling full and you haven’t been able to trick yourself into the feeling, try adding in some healthy fat like half an avocado. Healthy fats are an excellent way to feel satisfied for longer.


Once you’ve figured out how much you should be eating, make sure to practice portion control. Yes, it’s not exactly the most exciting thing in the world to weigh your food, but it sure beats eyeballing measurements. After all, are you sure you know exactly what 3 ounces of cheese or chicken looks like? If you don’t, measure it.

Then make only as much food as you need. It’s a lot harder to overeat when there aren’t leftovers.

If you find that you’re starving when you sit down to eat, you’re probably not getting enough food before then. That can cause the kind of blood sugar dips that have you shaking a chips bag into your mouth while you stare into the open fridge. To avoid this, make sure you don’t go too long without eating. Make sure you make time for healthy snacks.


It may seem like you’ll never break the cycle of overeating, but that’s probably because you’ve never really tried. If the only tools you’ve employed to stop binging are your good intentions and your not-so-iron will, it’s not your fault if you haven’t been successful yet. Overeating is most often the product of distracted eating, so to put an end to the cycle, you must put an end to distractions. Once you do that, you’ll find it much easier to actually watch what you eat.

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