It's probably not the first time your diet has failed. Relax, it happens to all of us. Have you ever wondered why that happens? Don't be hard on yourself; it's not because you lack the will or you're just too lazy. Most of the time, the reason is that we go overboard with restricting ourselves.
Just think about that – when you go on a diet, you probably instantly reduce the number of calories, and extremely for that matter. Your body will perceive it's in danger, expecting starvation, so it will slow down your metabolism to protect itself. So, you find yourself in a vicious circle – first, you starve yourself, then you overeat. And the circle keeps on until you stop with the diet and probably even gain a few more pounds.
Why do we overeat?
The answer to this question is in the way our bodies are genetically programmed. We are supposed to gain weight, so no wonder your body reacts the way it reacts when you deprive it of calories. Science has proven and any doctor will confirm to you that fatty, sugary, and salty foods are simply biologically attractive to us, namely addictive. Just think about it – you'll almost never eat a bowl of carrots but it won't be a problem to eat a package of ice cream.
The primitive side of our brain, the one with neurochemical reward centers, is what will be dominant over our common sense and willpower. In other words, it's in our nature to crave heavy, sugary food. However, that doesn't mean we can't use certain techniques and tricks to prevent ourselves from overeating in general and in the process lose a few pounds.
1. Eat more slowly
It takes time for your body to realise it's full, so you won't do yourself a favour if you eat quickly. Until the signal that you're satiated reaches your brain, it will probably take some 20 minutes, so give yourself that time and slow down. Otherwise, you'll cross your limit long before you realise you are full. So, the next time you sit to eat, set your timer to 20 minutes to identify how much time you need to start feeling full. Listen to what your body is telling you. This will help you in the future because you will be able to recognise the signs of being full.
An exception to this rule, could be if you have type 2 diabetes, in this case, you may not have the same hunger signals, so you may have to focus on a different technique.
2. Eat before you get hungry
Maybe this sounds strange to you, but it makes perfect sense. Many times, you postpone your meal because you know you're going out or you are expecting guests. Then, the worst thing happens – you are completely starved when you finally get the chance to eat, so you indulge yourself in heavy and sugary foods.
It's the same scenario if you don't eat at the end of work hours because you expect to be home soon, but then in half an hour, you're so hungry you simply don't want to spend time preparing a healthy meal at home. Instead of that, you dig into the fattest thing you find in the fridge. Be smarter than this next time – have a quick, healthy bite even if you're not feeling hungry in case you know that you'll have to wait for your next meal.
Even if you have meals at the same time, set your alarm one hour earlier – it will give you time to choose a healthy meal before you start feeling really hungry.
Doing regular exercise has a dual effect on your weight. First of all, it reduces the amount of stress and helps you relax. Stress is one of the main causes of overeating, and working out will keep that in check. Secondly, not just that exercise helps you burn calories faster but it also controls your appetite, so it's less likely you'll feel the need to overeat.
To get maximum effects from exercise, you should also consider taking certain supplements in order to develop muscles and lose more weight. Quality supplements like creatine magna powder will help you train harder and faster, but it's important you inform yourself on the right amount and time to take it.
4. Identify compulsive eating
Some people are compulsive eaters, meaning they eat in order to cope with negative feelings. The worse they feel, the more they eat. Binging is their way of overcoming issues and comforting themselves. Still, they will feel ashamed after binging but that won't stop them from thinking about food again when they feel bad next time. If you think you're a compulsive eater, there are ways to deal with it successfully.
For starters, every time you feel the need to eat, stop and think: "Am I hungry?" It will help you shift focus from what you want to eat to why you want it. If you have a favorite place where you usually eat, change it – it will break the bad habit so you won't overeat that often. In case you feel a strong craving for something – indulge yourself, but in moderation.
Change won't happen overnight, so it's important to be patient with yourself. Don't go on a strict diet and don't be strict to yourself. Overeating gets worse if you are too harsh on yourself. Take one day at a time and you'll notice how these tips are really helping you make progress.
Editor's note: This guest post was kindly written for Self Sufficient Me by Mia Johnson Freelance writer and fitness expert from Sydney, Australia.