So you had a target amount of calories for the day. But your office had free pizza today, so you took a slice. And you got tired in the afternoon, and grabbed a piece of chocolate. And one thing led to another, and… you overate. Dangit. What do you do now? Eat more, because f*** it, you didn’t meet your goal anyway right? No, stupid. You sit your butt down and read this article to help you avoid overeating in the future.
1. Practice food pregaming.
How many times has this happened to you? You go eat with family or friends, you have a GIGANTIC meal, and you end up feeling bloated and crappy afterwards (both physically and mentally). Maybe you were going to a holiday party. Or maybe you were going out to a birthday dinner. Or maybe you have no friends like me and you went to a buffet, alone, to eat your feelings away. Regardless of the event, you knew that it was going to be a potentially big meal.
There’s a concept called pregaming. If you’re a frequent drinker, an avid bar-hopper, or just someone who went to college, then you already know what this is. Basically, the idea is that you consume alcohol before you go out, so that you’re already a little bit drunk when you get there.
This concept can apply to food too – if you KNOW that you’re going to be having a big meal, eat something beforehand, such as a sandwich or a granola bar. This is one instance where you should “spoil your appetite”, unlike what your mom told you, because having less of an appetite when you get to the meal means you’ll have less chance of eating too much during the meal.
Note: this should be used only in certain situations. If you food pregame before a normal-sized meal, and you end up eating the typical amount of food, well, then you aren’t really better off afterward, are you? This is only useful if the food pregame will reduce the amount you eat overall.
2. Find out what meal frequency works best for you.
It’s true. Eating more often does absolutely nothing to your overall calorie intake. Whether you eat 1 time a day or 6 times a day, you’re not going to “speed up your metabolism” and magically burn more calories. And studies have shown that it doesn’t make you lose more weight, either.
However, changing your meal frequency can help you avoid overeating. Some people practice “intermittent fasting” and eat only two (large) meals a day. Some people eat bodybuilder-style and have six small meals a day. What YOU should do is try out both methods for a week each or so, and find which one helps you eat less calories overall. More importantly, find which one you can stick to long-term.
3. Put a ton of vegetables in your meals.
Here’s an exercise – next time you go grocery shopping, go to the salad mix section and look at the nutrition facts for various salad mixes. Spring mix, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, all that stuff. Look how big the bag is. Now look at how many calories are per serving. Spoiler: you’re going to find that most salad servings are anywhere from a mere 5 to 20 calories.
Seriously – it’s that low. It’s so low that if I add something like lettuce or spinach to a meal, I sometimes don’t even count it in my calorie log, because it contributes almost nothing in calories. But, what vegetables do contribute in is fiber, micronutrients, and most importantly, space in your stomach. Remember, it’s all about making yourself feel full.
Notice how I didn’t include fruit. Fruit is good, but it’s not as low in calories as most vegetables are (for example, a large banana has 140 calories).
4. Drink a ton of water during and after your meals.
Besides the fact that everyone and their mom tells you to drink 8 cups of water a day, water also serves other purposes.
First, it helps take up space in your stomach. We’ve already discussed that.
Second, it helps you digest food. It makes food softer and breaks it down easier so it can pass through your body more efficiently.
Third, it prolongs your meal and makes you eat slower. If you pause to take a drink in between moments of eating, you’re taking longer overall to eat. And that’s a good thing, because the brain takes 15-20 minutes to register that your stomach is full. In other words, do everything you can to take a long-ass time to finish your meal.
5. Overestimate EVERYTHING.
Let’s say you ate a Chipotle burrito bowl for lunch. But it felt a little bit bigger than normal. I mean, that employee was pretty cool. She gave you one and a half scoops of rice instead of one, and her scoop of chicken was piled super high. You’re gonna be eating good today! But… how are you gonna count it?
You have two options:
1. Use the normal calorie amount that you get from the Chipotle nutrition calculator.
2. Use the normal calorie amount, PLUS one extra serving of rice PLUS half an extra serving of chicken.
You can do this because Myfitnesspal and most calorie trackers allow you to adjust the “servings” for each item, meaning you can look up “Chipotle chicken” and add half a serving’s worth of calories to your typical bowl’s calories.
Here’s the thing – if you overestimate, you’re playing it safe. Even if your estimate is off from the actual number of calories, it’s still a good thing because at worst, you actually ate less than you estimated. And that’s good – you want to lose weight, right?
If you found this post useful, share it and subscribe (on the right menu)! I’m planning to put out a lot more useful, eye-opening, and clever posts this year. You won’t want to miss ’em.