In our society, food is everywhere—the mall and gas station, the ballpark and drug store. Super-size meals in fast food restaurants are almost too good a bargain to pass up, and servings in all but the most trendy restaurants are often enough to feed two. In the face of such plenty, it’s important to learn how to avoid overeating.
Here are seven strategies that can help defend against eating too much:
- Stop before you are stuffed. Learn your body’s signals and practice stopping before you feel full.
- Be selective. It’s easy to eat food just because it’s put in front of you. Be mindful of what you are eating, and make sure that you are choosing what to eat
- Select small portions. Portions in most restaurants are over-sized. If you are eating with someone else, try sharing an entrée, or order two appetizers instead of an entrée. If you’re eating alone, eat half and take the rest home for another meal.
- Beware of desserts. A single slice of The Cheesecake Factory’s Original Cheesecake packs almost 800 calories and an incredible 49 grams of fat (28 of them saturated, or 50 percent more than is the recommended maximum per day). Either share such a rich dessert several ways or skip it altogether and finish your meal with a piece of fruit or other lower calorie option.
- Slow down. Eating fast short-circuits the signals that your digestive system generates to signal that it’s getting full. Slowing down gives your stomach and intestines time to send these messages to your brain.
- Spoil your appetite. Having a snack or appetizer before a meal can dull your hunger and help you eat less at the meal.
- Be aware of why you are eating. Sometime we eat when we’re bored, anxious, or angry. Try not to soothe your negative feelings with food. Dealing with them in other ways—talking to friends, listening to music, taking a walk, meditating, or working—can help you relieve stress without gaining weight.
The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.