Sometimes overeating is intentional. Reaching for food when you are upset, sad, angry, or tired is a common method for coping with feelings. However, junk food does not have the power to make you feel better and after the cookie jar is empty, you will be even more emotional, this time with feelings of guilt and regret. Prevent this spiral from happening by taking charge of your emotions and eating habits. Creating new habits for yourself can help with the introduction of mindful eating and less overeating. We spoke with Barb Schmidt, international speaker and best-selling author of The Practice, and Amanda Foti, nutritionist for Selvera Wellness, about the importance of mindful eating and preventing overeating.
“Get in the habit of drinking your water, tea, or coffee after the meal is finished,” Schmidt said. “With practice, this will signify to your body you are done eating. You can also get into a routine of brushing and flossing your teeth after each meal. Taking the time to brush your teeth whenever you finish eating can also help cut back on the temptation to snack on sweets between meals.”
“Finding value in making healthy choices will help you stick with them long term,” Foti said. “Make healthy eating and exercising a lifestyle you live, not a temporary plan you are following to meet a goal. A healthy lifestyle shouldn’t have an end point, it should just be the way you live.”
“Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, focus on giving your body enough healthy, fresh food to function optimally,” Schmidt said. “For example, notice how many servings of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat each day. Fresh fruits and veggies contain fiber, which can help you feel full and cut back on unhealthy cravings. When you eat foods that nourish the body you feel satisfied and healthy. Pay attention to what your body needs, and how different foods make your body feel.”
A lot of the time, stress can cause us to freeze up and be unproductive. Instead of procrastinating doing your work, running your errands, or tackling your to-do list, put the bag of chips to the side and get your things done. By staying busy, you will prevent stress and mindless overeating. It’s normal to reach for food for comfort when you have a million and one things to do but instead, write a list of what you have to get done. Checking things off the list will be more of a relief than having a few more cookies.
“The biggest mistake when feeling the onset of stress is not taking the time to stop and look at what is happening, taking some deep breaths, coming back to the present moment, and then beginning again,” Schmidt said. “We do not give ourselves permission to stop in our culture today. We feel pressure to push on and hope for the best. When we stop and breathe, we feel immediate relief from the physical symptoms of the stress and then we can take an action in alignment with solving the issue or problem. Stress can be our greatest friend if we can learn how to manage it instead of letting it get the best of us.”