6 ways to avoid overeating
Overeating is one of the main contributors to the current obesity epidemic in Australia. Many of us eat more than is needed to meet our daily nutritional and energy requirements, but that doesn’t mean we all need to go on a diet of carrot sticks and water.
Food should be savoured, so rather than giving up your favourite meals why not get your portion control in check and tackle overeating with a few different strategies:
1. Downsize your dinner plate
Serve your meals at home on smaller plates so that you don’t have the opportunity to pile too much on, just be sure to pack any leftovers away before your start eating so you won’t be tempted to go back for seconds.
2. Make room for more vegies
Add more vegetables to your meals! Non-starchy vegies are a low-energy, high-nutrient option to fill up your plate and help make you feel full. A single serve of raw veggies is one cup (chopped). Try to include at least two cups of raw vegetables per person per meal.
3. Use smaller forks and spoons
Using smaller cutlery to eat your meals makes it harder to shovel food in quickly. This gives your body more time to register when you are full so you can stop eating before you overdo it.
4. Pay attention to what you put in your mouth
Focus on your food during meal times. Distractions like television and technology make it easy to ignore feelings of satisfaction and fullness, which means you’ll be more inclined to overeat. Why not sit at the table and focus on enjoying the different tastes and texture of your meal?
5. Eat out without the guilt
When dining out at restaurants or cafes choose an entrée-sized main and split an entrée or a dessert with a friend. This way you can still taste a few different dishes and have the experience of eating great food, but without any guilt.
6. Know your stuff
Familiarise yourself with the energy content and appropriate serving sizes of your favourite foods. This will make you more aware of your usual overeating traps. Here are some common examples:
Did you know that a single serving of nuts is considered to be 30g? That’s just enough to fit in the palm of your hand when it’s cupped, but many people easily consume three or more handfuls. Use small containers or snap-lock bags to weigh out portions at home so you don’t go overboard.
A delicious snack and healthy too, but don’t be fooled by the smaller size of each piece. A single serving of dried fruit is 30g – roughly four apricot halves or 1 ½ tbsp sultanas. If this doesn’t seem like enough try a 150g serve of fresh fruit instead.
A standard serving of wine is roughly 100ml – and even this much will add the energy equivalent of one slice of bread to your daily intake. Having one 375mL glass of beer will add roughly two slices of bread to your energy total, while one 255ml bottle of cider will add two-and-a-half slices of bread to your total. Try drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink to help slow you down. This will also help you avoid being involved in buying rounds – you don’t have to drink as much as everyone else!
If done continually, small changes in your dietary habits can make a large impact on your weight. Considering that it only takes about a 440kj decrease in energy consumption each day (about 150ml glass of wine) to lose 5kg over a year. By incorporating any of the above strategies and doing them frequently, you could lose weight without too much effort!
For more information on serving guides for adults check out the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.
Trish McDougallTrish has a B. Sc. in Nutrition and is passionate about inspiring people to improve their health by taking the mystery out of healthy eating and encouraging people to choose food that is delicious, simple and affordable.
Disclaimer: This article provides general advice only. Readers should seek independent professional advice from their general practitioner or dietician in relation to their own individual circumstances or condition before making any decisions based on the information in this article.