Do you have trouble putting down your fork? Do you eat what’s left on your kids’ plates, simply because it’s there? Do you sometimes munch mindlessly when you’re sad or stressed out? Do you often consume all your carbs for the day in one meal, and lose control of what you’re putting in your mouth a couple hours later? Do you eat lightly during the day and feel ravenous by dinner or before bedtime? Do you often skip meals, then overdo it at your next meal, simply because you’re so hungry?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re no stranger to overeating. (Although people doing Atkins know they have to control their carbs, some make the mistake of thinking they can eat massive portions of foods that are high in protein and fat. If you overconsume any food, you are likely to slow or stall your weight loss.)
If it makes you feel any better, you’re in good company—overeating is incredibly common; not surprisingly, it’s especially problematic among people who are trying to lose weight. It’s not an inherent sign of weakness, nor simply a matter of poor self-control. Usually it has to do with not being aware of what or how much you’re eating or snacking just because food is there. Many of us have lost touch with our hunger cues because we’ve been overeating for many years. Plus, when your blood sugar is unstable because you have a history of overdoing carbs or eating erratically, your appetite—and your noshing—can spiral into overdrive, causing you to consume more than you need or intend to. Here are some strategies to help you overcome overeating:
1. Cut out refined carbs.
Immediately. Reducing your intake of calorie-dense carbs automatically reduces the amount of calories you’re consuming on a daily basis, which forces your body to burn fat stored around your midsection for energy, rather than the sugars it takes from carbohydrates.
2. Be mindful of what you eat.
Paying attention to when, what and where you are eating can help you tune in to when you’re feeling full, as well as the triggers and situations that may cause you to overeat. If you use a food journal regularly, you can begin to understand these patterns.
3. Eat regular meals.
If you consume regular meals (not going more than four to six hours without solid food), as the Atkins Diet advises, you’ll begin to stabilize your blood sugar,which will help you control your appetite.
4. Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
While you don’t typically measure protein and fat portions on Atkins (you do have to measure out portions of all carbs), especially during the weight-loss phases, the key is to eat until you are satisfied but not stuffed. How to tell the difference? When your belly is bloated, you’ve had too much. Feeling satisfied means your hunger has been pacified, or brought under control, and you could easily stop eating. You feel like you’ve had a sufficient amount to eat, but you’re not truly full.
The good news? You can learn to control your overeating by following these strategies.