It’s about that time of year again when countless weight loss-focused New Year’s resolutions are set, with an abundance of motivation and hope that this year will be different.
But how many will stick to it?
Among the most common New Year’s resolutions for Americans are to exercise more (50%), eat healthier (43%) and lose weight (37%). Unfortunately, only 7% of Americans stuck to their 2020 resolutions – the average success rate over the past decade.1
How many times have we convinced ourselves that major changes were necessary to achieve better health — only for our convictions to fall apart almost immediately? As we head into 2021 and happily leave 2020 in the rearview mirror, it’s important to focus on past New Year’s resolution failures and why the best of intentions didn’t tip the scale in a more favorable direction. In our previous post, we shed light on the top behavioral failures that stymie such intentions and provided some simple advice – start by making the changes to your habits very small and achievable. With that in mind, we present the 2021 Top 10 Guide to Curb Overeating with some important guidelines:
- Focus on one aspect of dietary behavior – overeating. There are different degrees of overeating, but most people are guilty of eating more than they need to at least sometimes.
- Pick one or two things to work on and that’s it. Trying to remember to do 10 things is too much. Once you’ve made a routine out of one good healthy habit. You can add another.
- Keep the bar for success low. For each tip, we provide a suggested “Low bar for success.” You should decide what works best for you. The idea is to make it, achievable on a daily basis without fail.
1. Avoid Distractions
It’s become the new norm to eat with a fork in one hand and your device in the other, scrolling mindlessly through Facebook or your newsfeed. It’s also very common to get caught up in conversations when dining socially, paying no attention to how much you’re overeating and how quickly you’re consuming food. Changing your habits to avoid distractions and remain focused on consumption and portions is of the utmost importance when trying to curb overeating, especially when it comes to weight loss.
Low bar for success: Pick one meal each day to be distraction free. Or decide to be distraction free for just the first 10 minutes of eating.
2. Eat Slowly
Slow, methodical eating has proven to have a positive, long-term impact on overeating. Otherwise known as mindful eating, slowing down your pace of food consumption allows you to gain control of your eating while actually enjoying your food more. Mindful eating programs like the Lumme Mindful Eating app provide a guided eating experience to keep your bite size small and eating pace appropriate. Lumme’s app in particular, not only walks you through a mindful eating experience, but is optimized for smartwatches to track calories, count bites and measure eating pace.
Low bar for success: Use the Mindful Eating app for one meal per day for at least the first 8 minutes.
3. Eliminate Temptations
Easily-seen food on your countertops or in your pantry often lead to a breakdown of willpower. “Out of sight, out of mind” is the mantra to adopt when trying to curb overeating and lose weight. Permanently replace those tempting snacks with a fruit bowl, nuts or another healthy alternative and leave the sweets and fatty foods on the store shelves.
Low bar for success: Find a healthier substitute or out-of-sight placement for one temptation.
4. Fill Your Grocery Cart with Lean Proteins
Protein is essential for long-term weight loss, and not getting enough can put you at risk of overeating. Since proteins take longer to digest, they keep you satisfied for longer periods of time. Be sure to add an adequate amount of protein to every meal, and cut back on the cereals at breakfast and the pasta at dinner. Focus instead on Greek yogurt for breakfast, and lunches and dinners that include fish, shrimp, grilled chicken and/or veggies. A new way of shopping is critical to your new way of eating.
Low bar for success: Find one healthy substitute that can be worked into your daily meal plan.
5. Don’t Skip Meals
If you’re busy at work, be sure to force a hard stop for lunch despite it being easy to convince yourself you can make it until dinner – especially when dieting. A general rule of thumb is to not go longer than 4-5 hours between meals, or you risk a drop in blood sugar which will inevitably lead to hunger cravings and overindulging. At the very least, take a break for a sizeable, healthy snack.
Low bar for success: Set an alarm to have lunch each day at the same time. Plan for it in the same way you wake up in the morning.
6. Reduce Stress
Whether it’s your job, partner, money or something else causing stress in your life, chances are that stress is working against your weight-loss efforts. Stress kicks your cortisol levels up several notches, leading to feeling hungry, and as a result – overeating. Long periods of stress mean long periods of overeating. Adopting a permanent routine that includes meditation, a daily walk, journaling or other stress-reducing activities will help combat those cortisol spikes.
Low bar for success: Use an app to schedule a 10 minute meditation each day or to perform some breathing exercises.
7. Get Plenty of H2O
The brain often confuses thirst for hunger, so it’s quite possible a glass of water is all your body needed instead of a snack that resulted in unnecessary calories. The solution? Get into the habit of carrying a water bottle with you throughout the day and drink consistently. You’ll find that your hunger subsides and you’ll be rewarded with more energy, better digestion and glowing skin.
Low bar for success: Have a glass of water before every meal or snack.
8. Avoid Eating Directly Out of Containers
One thing those convenient Chinese take-out containers don’t tell you is how many servings it actually contains. Eating directly out of your Chinese take-out container, the pasta container from your favorite pizzeria, or your favorite Pad Thai take-out box is a recipe for overindulgence of some seriously high-sodium, high-calorie foods. If take-out is a must, be sure to dive into the menu for the healthiest option and serve yourself a portion of the container on a regular dish.
Low bar for success: Measure your favorite foods and snacks just once so you know how many portions (serving sizes) you’re eating and what it looks like.
9. Focus on Fiber
Much like protein, fiber is essential for permanent weight-loss. Soluble fiber promotes healthy gut bacteria and overall fat loss by reducing your appetite. More fiber along with healthier food choices and exercise is a winning combination for weight loss.
Low bar for success: Pick your favorite form of fiber to work into your daily meal plan.
10. Create a Visual Reminder of Your Goal
Nothing is more powerful when it comes to weight loss goals than remembering why you’re doing it. If it’s to be a better example for your children and live longer for them, carry a photo of them in your purse or wallet and look at it when cravings strike. If it’s to fit into a certain pair of jeans or look amazing in a bathing suit, purchase the item and keep it prominently displayed in your bedroom. Visual reminders spark motivation and remind us why we’re on this journey.
Low bar for success: Put your reminder in a place where it is most impactful to achieving one of these previously mentioned tips!
As we try to change the stats on New Year’s resolutions and drive a far better success rate, it’s important to remember that this is 2021. We talk more today than ever before about permanent lifestyle and behavioral changes in order to achieve weight loss success – and there is support out there. Try to get some friends involved to pick one thing or have your family members do the same. Just don’t leave it up to your willpower.
Finally, even with a low bar for success, there may be times, early in the development process of new behaviors where you fall short. First, don’t beat yourself up. Try to get back on track the next day. If you find yourself falling short too frequently, then consider lowering the bar for success a bit further, or trying something else that seems a bit more achievable in your life.