Whether it’s driven by emotion or hunger, stress or old habits, we’ve all been guilty of eating too much, too quickly.
From that second helping at lunch to that extra slice of cake, to the other end of the spectrum where bingeing and obesity start becoming issues, what can we do to exercise sufficient portion control?
“I often see women whose food diaries are textbook perfect, but they still feel tired, bloated, and struggle to reach their ideal weight. Usually this can be traced back to eating too much, eating too fast, or a combination of the two.”
So how do we find that healthy balance? Here are Jenna’s easy and effective tips for making a change from the inside out.
1. Food for thought
“We are so used to validating ourselves based on how busy we are, to the point that we almost can't give ourselves the permission to do only one thing, do it well, and enjoy it fully.
“Yes, multi-tasking is important, but think of health as the umbrella priority - if you don't have it, you can't have anything else. Treating your body well is the fuel for every other area of your life, allowing you to achieve all the things you want to.
“With this in mind, it makes sense that we can set a minimum of 20 minutes aside every time we eat (and not be emailing, planning, reading, etc.). It's ok to be a uni-tasker when it comes to eating. The world is not going to fall apart if you take a break, in fact quite the opposite, because you'll be recharging your batteries properly.”
2. In good taste
“When you're unexcited by a meal, you're more likely to overeat because psychologically, you'll take more bites in search of that satisfaction 'hit' that food is supposed to give your brain.
“You could be eating fish and veggies all day but if you're not thrilled by the experience, it's easy to overdo it. Cue poor digestion, bloating, and stubborn weight you just can't understand.
“As much as possible, try to eat foods that thrill you. Flavouring a salad with some good truffle oil or sprinkling some parmesan shavings on it can take it to the next level, for very little extra effort."
3. A healthy (eating) mindset
“You might assume that the most obvious scenario for overeating is a fancy restaurant meal, but trust me, it's even more common to mindlessly overeat a massive pile of quinoa and vegetables at your desk and feel GROSS afterwards. I've done it plenty of times.
“When we tell ourselves we are 'trying to be good' or 'being healthy this week', it's like we've already decided it ain't gonna be fun and so we tend to unceremoniously hoover the healthy food, as if to get it over with as quick as possible. The reality is that if we want to be healthy long-term, we have to learn to enjoy it.
“Usually when working with a client, I will try and come up with a 'sweet spot' list of foods that are healthy AND that taste good to them. Make a list of 5 to 10 healthy things you love the taste of, and keep it at the front of your mind. That way, you can always assemble an easy meal that you know you'll love. Similarly, refuse to eat healthy things you despise. If celery's not your thing, that’s ok - leave it out!”
4. Portion control
“I hate measuring food because that's such a restrictive mentality. Instead, I eyeball my plate; at each meal, I aim for one palmful of dense protein or starch (so quinoa, fish, meat, sweet potato, whatever you're fancying), as many vegetables as I desire and a good serving of fats, whether that’s half an avocado, a big scoop of hummus, or a few tablespoons of seeds, nuts or nut butter. It's never exact, but doing this prevents my eyes being bigger than my stomach.
“These amounts aren't a one-size fits all, so you may want to tweak them based on what works best for you. If you train hard, are male, or under 25 it's possible you will need more.”
5. Eat gratefully
“Saying Grace was never something I got on board with. But now I definitely see the value in taking a deep breath when I sit down to a meal, and just allow myself to feel the full extent of my gratitude for what I'm about to do.
“Having this little pause in between seeing our food and eating it will help give you a sense of calmness before you tuck in, and make you present and connected to the experience of eating so that you're less likely to mindlessly overeat."
6. Food for fuel
“Skipping lunch in anticipation of a splurge-y dinner, missing breakfast because we're slammed with work, or doing a quick juice fast before a weekend wedding - these are all common scenarios. We think that they'll work because all it requires is a pinch of discipline and some temporary suffering.
“What we don't realise is that our bodies are WAY smarter than that - they register when we haven't given them enough fuel, and you can bet your bottom dollar they'll force you to make up for it later on. Without realising, you're making the bingeing or the overeating a sure thing for tomorrow by being tricky with yourself today.
“Adopt a more loving relationship with your body by fuelling it properly and consistently. Our bodies do so many things for us every day, no matter how badly we treat them. Giving them something back is the least we can do. Master that and the overeating will disappear effortlessly.”