Whether you eat junk food, grains, sugar or healthy organic foods, one fact about eating does not change. How much we eat is something we can all address and manage much more effectively.
Overeating is one of the driving factors for our obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States and is becoming a worldwide problem. Since 2012, studies have found overeating now outpaces lack of food as one of the world's largest health problems. Stated back in the 1950s, modern food production has created a growing category of health problems due to overconsumption of calories on a daily basis.
It is estimated more than 30 percent of people who are overweight and/or obese can be classified as having a binge eating disorder. Overconsumption of sugars, carbohydrates and starches trigger a complexed series of chemical and hormonal changes in your body that turns off your ability to feel full. Many food manufacturers actually formulate and design their products to trigger a hunger response, driving the desire to eat more of their product, creating higher demand.
Overeating is one health factor that can be managed very easily, yet seems to be difficult for so many people. This certainly can be partly blamed on our processed food and fast-food culture which places more value on the economic outcome of food manufacturers than the health outcome of the consumer.
The problem of overeating impacts us differently based on our gender. Men tend to eat more meats, grains and starches while women consume more fruits, dairy and vegetables. We all over-consume sugars. Since hormones and body chemistry are directly affected by overeating, men and women develop chronic health- and weight-related problems at a different pace. For example, women store fat much easier then men and it becomes much more difficult for women to lose that extra body fat once they have it.
This makes it no surprise that women diet more and struggle with eating problems more than men. These eating problems get compounded when both men and women start cycling through overeating and dieting, which the body does not adapt to and in fact, can create even bigger health problems and inflammation.
The best approach to eating is so simple and one that was the daily normal hundreds of years ago: eating fresh whole foods in small portions during the day, don't eat after 7 p.m. and keep processed sugars and snacks completely out of your diet. Grains and starchy foods must be kept to a minimum and rely on protein and raw vegetables to curb your hunger.
Here are a few things you can do to bring overeating under control and get to a manageable weight-loss practice:
1. Take roughly 20 days to taper down and reduce your calorie intake. Start off limiting food triggers that drive overeating. We all have those foods that trigger us that once we start eating them, it's tough to stop.
2. Within the first 20-plus days, reduce or remove grains and sugar products from your diet. These food types drive hunger responses and overeating. They are also loaded with calories and tend to convert to fat in your body with ease.
3. Manage your portion sizes by dividing your plate into food types. Focus on larger servings of protein- and vegetable-based foods and reduce starchy and high-carb foods.
4. Use a smaller plate or bowl. Downsize your food delivery by only allowing enough food that fits in a smaller serving dish. This may sound silly, but keep in mind 54 percent of people in the U.S. eat until their plates are clean, so keep your plate size modest.
5. Taper slowly — you cannot put the breaks on overeating too quickly. Overeating is influenced by neurobiological factors. Your brain needs to relearn what type of food and amounts of food that satiate your appetite. Remember junk food is chemically designed to make you eat more, so move to whole fresh organic foods.
6. Do not eat in front of the television… ever. Research has proven most people eat more while watching TV and I know, it's easier said than done.
7. Be responsible when you shop at the grocery store. Do not buy groceries when you are hungry. Shop on a full stomach, plan ahead, make a list and stick to it. Also stay out of the center of the store as healthy foods tend to be on the fringes of the store.
8. Finally, be very aware of what you drink. Most beverages such as sodas and sugary drinks are loaded with calories. Stick to water, straight, no frills, maybe with ice! Our daily calorie overload is impacted by drinking our calories as much as eating our calories.
There are a number of other pointers, but this is a great start to downsize your portions, reduce your cravings and make your food intake a daily top-of-mind concern. If you take the 20-plus days to slowly change your eating habits, you will turn your health and weight loss around pretty quickly after that.
A recognized health and wellness presenter, fitness trainer and now primal health coach in the Inland Northwest. Now in his eighth year of bringing health and wellness through his writing, teaching and coaching, Judd delivers his well-rounded message of mindfulness, nutrition and fitness to readers and clients alike.