Welcome Jessica Penner, a Canadian Registered Dietitian here today to tell us about her experiences and advice with overeating!
I was an active kid, but for some reason I had no endurance. After 10 seconds of running, I was out of breath with a burning stitch in my side. Apparently there’s a name for this: Exercise-Related Trans Abdominal Pain. It was extremely painful but my Phys. Ed. and swimming teachers just thought I was lazy.
I was jealous of people who could run. The concept of running for longer than 10 seconds without being crippled by pain baffled my mind! When I was 20 I decided to face this monster and learn how to run. My goal was to run a half marathon.
So I trained. I worked myself up to five mile runs, three times a week, with a longer run (8-10 miles) on the weekend. Eventually I did run the half marathon, in a blistering 2 hours and 42 minutes! Others would hate to settle for that time, but it was a huge accomplishment for me.
Prior to marathon training I had a little muffin top and some other jiggly spots that I wasn’t a big fan of. I figured that adding 20 miles of running a week to my activity levels would help trim my figure, but this didn’t happen. I still jiggled, even while I was in the best cardiovascular shape of my life, and this puzzled me.
Fast forward a few years and add a nutrition degree. I’m now practicing as a Registered Dietitian. Through my education and time on the job, I’ve realized that some of my habits were causing me to overeat. Things that I did everyday made me subconsciously eat more than I needed or intended.
Unfortunately I’m no longer in the habit of running, but my clothes have never fit me better! In the past few years I got pregnant, birthed a beautiful baby, and I can humbly and honestly say that I look better than ever before! This is all because I’ve learned how to regulate my eating to the amount that’s right for my needs.
I’ve discovered for myself, and what I’ve observed in my clients, is that many of our daily habits are causing us to overeat. It’s only when we identify and change these habits that we can cure ourselves from a case of ‘overeating!’
Top Ten Habits That Keep You Overeating
- Multi-tasking. Do you eat while watching TV, checking Facebook, or even while making the kids’ lunches? Are you eating right now while you’re reading this? Multi-tasking is a prized skill in today’s society but, when it comes to eating, our bodies haven’t caught on to this phenomenon. Our stomachs send us subtle cues to tell our brain to stop feeding it but these can be easily missed if we’re distracted!
- Not planning ahead. After a busy day you and your spouse sit down to relax and watch a TV show and decide to have a snack. You open the bag of chips and three episodes later you leave behind an empty chip bag crumpled into a crinkly ball of regret.
- Sprint Eating. Remember those subtle cues our stomachs send our brains to tell us to stop eating? Well, they don’t work instantaneously. It takes time. If you are sprint eating, you might plow right past the point when your stomach wanted to send a signal to your brain to stop eating.
- Filling up on the meat and potatoes. In North America we tend to eat one course at dinner. Common eating practices in France involve multi-course dinners. Yet we continue to hear how French people are much smaller, on average, than North Americans! How can they eat more food, yet weigh less? The secret is in the first course: a soup or salad! If you start your meal with veggies, which have fewer calories, you will have less room to fill up on the main course.
- Not fully enjoying your food. The act of eating was meant to be enjoyable. Why else would God have created such amazing and diverse flavours? If food was simply to sustain us he could have stopped at manna. He didn’t. He gave us food that’s sweet and salty. Food that’s crunchy and velvety. Taking the time to savour each food can have a dramatic impact on the amount you eat. You’ll find that you enjoy your food more but eat less!
- Eating the wrong foods. When you eat certain foods, you’ll find yourself hungry and craving a snack in just a short while. While other foods will sustain you until your next meal. It’s important to choose foods that will keep you feeling fuller, for longer. These are foods that are higher in protein, fibre, and water!
- Keeping Food in Eyesight. The sight of food can actually cause the glands in our mouth to start salivating! You may not have even been thinking of food or feeling hungry but the sight of a tasty snack can cause you to reach for it, almost without even thinking about it! Keeping foods in the cupboard and out of sight can do wonders for putting a halt to spontaneous eating.
- Thinking of your workout as a workout. When people perceive the physical activity they do as exercise, they tend to reward themselves afterwards for all the hard work they’ve done. Often the reward comes in the form of a donut or other food! It’s important to find activities you enjoy doing. Not only will you find that it’s easier to make it a habit, you also won’t reach for a food reward afterwards.
- Restricting Diets! A bit odd, eh? You’d think that restricting food would be the first thing you’d want to do if you wanted to stop overeating. Unfortunately, the act of restricting something just makes you want it more!
- Using Bowls and Plates that Are TOO Big. The bigger the plate, the more your mind is going to want to fill it with food. Since most of us were taught to “finish the food on our plates,” the bigger the plate, the more we eat! Swap out your dinner plates for smaller plates and you’ll find yourself taking smaller portions.
Do any of these habits sound familiar to you? I’ve developed “I Quit Overeating”: a 10-week program that walks you through the steps it takes to change these habits. In the program you will explore different strategies that will turn your habits around. Instead of being controlled by food, you will regain control and be able to regulate your food intake for the amount that’s right for your body!
Learn more at www.smartnutrition.ca/iquitovereating.
Jessica is a Canadian girl with a passion for travelling and food, in that order! She grew up as a picky eater, but her love for travel forced her to meet the challenge of accepting new foods, and she now loves exploring new flavours in the kitchen. All of that delicious food posed a different problem at first, overeating, but her nutrition education and experience as a Registered Dietitian has brought insight and balance to her eating habits. She loves to share what she’s learned with others to help them get the most out of food!