The multiple mechanisms that motivate us to eat work well for survival when food is hard to find and access. However, our modern world has evolved. How we grow and find food and the quality and quantity of food we eat have changed. The discord between our modern world and our biological design is having an impact on our waistline – currently 65% of the U.S. population is overweight or obese.
If we are to make headway with our weight loss efforts, we, too, must adapt and not be foiled by our biology. It may not feel natural but neither is the modern world we live in.
Here are 5 tips to prevent overeating and help you with your weight loss journey:
- Schedule eating every 4 hrs – Prevent hunger cues.
- Start strong – Don’t forget breakfast – Imitate the successful. According to the national weight control registry, over 90% of those who successfully maintain their weight have breakfast every morning. You may not be hungry early in the morning but it will help with hunger downstream and ultimately help you with weight loss.
- Bulk up with protein and fiber – Women who ate 30% or 18% of their calories from protein were compared in a research study at Purdue University. The high protein eaters felt more satisfied and were less hungry. PYY, a hormone produced from the gut after ingesting protein, is responsible for turning off the hunger and stimulating the satiety centers in the brain. One review published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association linked a high intake of fiber with lower body mass index and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Stay hydrated – Signals for thirst often get misinterpreted as hunger and trigger us to overeat. Reports suggest that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. That’s a lot of people chronically triggered to overeat! Multiple randomized controlled studies support that drinking water throughout the day helps reduce overeating and was associated with an average weight loss of 4.4 pounds. Water also helps with weight maintenance.
- Ask yourself, “What am I hungry for?” – It may not be hunger for food or water. Sometimes we feel an uncomfortable sensation in our nervous system, and we are compelled to respond by taking action to resolve it – just like the thirst signals that we misinterpret as hunger. We may interpret the discomfort of anxiety, lack of purpose, or boredom as hunger because it feels unsettling. Redirect the hunger action away from eating towards something else, such as a sudoku puzzle. Sometimes the act of solving something, like a puzzle, closes the circuit, and allows us to feel resolved.