Eating less is hard. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some suggestions to keep in mind if you feel you are just consuming too much food and need ways to cut back.
Practice hara hachi bu.
This Okinawan eating practice translates to “80 percent” and means that traditional Okinawans stop eating when they are 80 percent full. This is a great way to avoid overeating because it gives your brain time to notice what is in your stomach and send an “I’m full” signal. Instead of reaching for a seconds, put your fork down and clear the table as soon as you feel the first slight twinges of fullness (Return to the table for more conversation or take cups of tea into the living room with your dining companions to extend the pleasure of your meal.) Experts say there is about a 20 minute delay before the stomach tells the brain that it is full.
Downsize your dinnerware
In recent years, many dinnerware manufacturers have increased the size of the plates and bowls they sell to keep pace with larger portions to which we have all grown accustomed. It you tend to overeat, serve meals on salad plates instead of dinner plates.
Practice the three-hour rule
Don’t let more than three hours pass between your meals and snacks. Eating regularly keeps you from becoming ravenous or experiencing the effects of low blood sugar: Feeling lightheaded and low on energy. Moderate-size meals and snacks can also help you avoid overeating because it is comforting to know that there is another chance to eat coming soon.
Make lunch the big meal of the day
In traditional European societies, the midday meal is the star. Not only to people take time to linger together over food, but they also eat more of it than they do at dinner – giving their bodies more time for digestion and more fuel for the rest of the day. Eating a bigger lunch can also help you avoid the late afternoon slump that can lead to overeating and to poor food choices such as sweets and snack foods.
Set a new second-helping rule
Allow yourself second helpings of only fruit and vegetables, not of grains, fats, or meats.
Eat 90 percent of your meals at home.
You are more likely to eat high-fat, high-calorie, highly processed foods away from home than in your own kitchen or dining room. And you will avoid the temptation of large restaurant portions, too.
Eat slowly and calmly
Set aside at least half hour to eat each meal of the day. Make the food last for that whole length of time by eating slowly and stopping frequently to enjoy the conversation of your companions, the view out the window, or the music on the radio. This slow-eating strategy gives your brain the opportunity to notice how much you have already eaten and send a signal that you are done.
Practice the grounded-fork rule
To help slow down your eating, force yourself to put down your fork after every bite and do not pick it up until you have swallowed what you have just put in your mouth.
As you can see, some of these ideas are really simple, but they do really work. It is kind of like “hacking” you brain and your body. For its own good of course!
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