by Matt Weik
It’s not difficult to overeat. We can all sit down with a bowl of ice cream, a bag of potato chips, or whatever other indulgence you might enjoy and go to town. Or maybe it’s a poker night with the boys and you’re kicking back a few cold ones or enjoying a cigar with a few glasses of scotch or bourbon? Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t take long to completely crush your diet. All of those calories quickly add up in a hurry. When these types of behaviors are repeated often, the pounds will start creeping up on the scale. There are a few instances that we can encounter every single day that could throw our nutrition plans out the window. Don’t make these common mistakes.
1. The infamous stomach growls
We all know what happens when our stomach starts talking to us… it’s hungry. When this happens, many grab whatever is around them just to stop the embarrassing noises. Unfortunately, the food options that are chosen are not often good ones. A bag of chips in the break room or something out of the vending machine at work. You’re eating based on convenience, and not exactly what would be the best or healthiest option. These options tend to be higher in sugars and fats rather than taking in nutrients that will help you feel and stay full. And sometimes, you can trick your stomach into feeling full by simply drinking a glass of water. In my opinion, it’s always best to try that option first before grabbing any food, especially if you don’t feel hungry or it’s not time to eat your next meal.
Another way to combat this issue is by always have a healthy snack option nearby. If at work, buy some nuts that can be resealed and keep them in your desk. When your stomach decides it wants to be part of your conference call, grab a handful of nuts and satisfy its request. Another option would be to have protein bars in your bag or briefcase. Whether at work or on the go, having a protein bar within reach will keep you from stopping at the nearest McDonald’s and downing fatty food options that you’ll end up regretting later.
2. Portion control (or lack thereof)
How much food you consume can get out of control if you aren’t watching your portions or simply don’t know what correct portion sizes look like. It’s easy to overeat when you base your decisions off of what looks good. Or, in the case of restaurants, the portions you generally get are double what you truly need and should consume. For that reason, you should always get a take-home box and portion out your meal as soon as it’s placed in front of you so you can accurately eat only what you need for that specific meal.
The easiest way to look at your plate and figure out correct portions would be to fill half of your plate with vegetables, and the remaining half can be split between lean protein sources and whole grains. Try to pick vegetables that are higher in fiber, such as broccoli, which will help you feel satiated and full well after you’re done eating. Keep this plate diagram in the back of your head so you always have a game plan going into any situation where food is present.
3. Eating the wrong foods
Plain and simple, you’re eating the wrong foods. You’re consuming foods that are high in fats, sugars, or carbohydrates and it’s triggering the sensation from your brain to keep eating. The brain loves sugar. When you consume sugar, the brain treats it almost like a drug—it wants more. When you consume foods high in sugar, you end up down the rabbit hole before you even know what happened. Stay away from foods that are high in sugar to prevent yourself to falling into this pitfall.
Look for lean proteins whenever possible as well as fibrous greens and carbohydrates. When in need of a quick snack, something like celery is a great choice since it’s primarily made up of water and naturally low in calories. Want something to go with your celery? Have some natural peanut butter or almond butter nearby that you can spread on top. If you have nuts in a drawer at work or the pantry at home, grab some almonds, cashews, peanuts, or pistachios to not only take in good healthy fats, but they will also help you feel satiated and can prevent you from overeating.
4. Blindly eating at social events
Think about the items you find at social events and ask yourself if they are something you should be eating. Chances are, the answer is no. Look at breakfast meetings where donuts are being tossed around like frisbees. Or networking events/social gatherings where there are pastries, cakes, sweets, and other food items not normally part of your daily nutrition.
At these events, you tend to graze consistently because that’s what everyone is doing. People carry around a plate of food and nibble at it the entire time—for some, nibbling is an understatement. Most people don’t even realize how much they consumed simply because they aren’t focused on their intake. When their plate is empty, they go back up for more. For the sake of your waistline, grab a plate full of vegetables and any lean protein sources you can find. Make one plate, and only one plate. When your plate is empty, toss it to the side and don’t pick it up again. If it’s a plastic or Styrofoam plate, toss it in the trash and walk away. Grab yourself some water or a calorie-free beverage and continue to socialize. You don’t need to have a plate in your hand to accomplish what you came to do.