Dietary Tips to Prevent Overeating

Putting a stop to overeating is an important step to overall health. According to Internist Jehan Riar, MD, of Bayhealth Primary Care, Georgetown, the most common causes of overeating are stress, depression, poor sleep, and hormone imbalances. Certain foods and dietary habits can also trigger overeating. With that in mind, Dr. Riar shares the following tips to help prevent overeating.

  1. Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you want to prevent overeating, Dr. Riar says you need to read food labels and avoid foods that contain artificial sweeteners, which are actually worse than sugar because they taste sweeter. “This confuses your body, and makes it difficult for it to recognize how many calories it has consumed, and, therefore, almost impossible to know when it’s full,” she explained. “So you end up overeating.”
  2. Limit starchy carbohydrates. Since they elicit a response similar to artificial sweeteners, these foods are another primary cause of overeating. “Carbs such as pasta, rice, and bread break down into sugar, which causes spikes in blood sugar levels and insulin,” said Dr. Riar. “Then after a while, when blood sugar levels drop, this makes you feel hungry again. Unfortunately, at this point, we often reach for more of the wrong foods, because the wrong choices are the easy choices. For example, almost everything you can get out of a vending machine, except maybe nuts, is bad for you and will have this effect on your body, and trigger you to overeat.”
  3. Be aware of the effects of popular weight loss diets. These include calorie-restrictive diets, starvation diets and ones that eliminate an entire food group, such as carb-free diets. “The reason this is important for helping to prevent overeating is because they will make your body crave food more,” said Dr. Riar. “And, eventually, you’ll crave those foods you’ve eliminated even more than before, which can ultimately lead to overeating.”

In a nutshell, to prevent overeating, you need to eat a balanced diet and don’t deny yourself of any particular food group. “But do focus on eating more healthy protein, including cheese, nuts, seeds, eggs, and yogurt. Protein offsets the spikes in insulin and blood sugar and will help you feel full longer. These can also make good snacks, along with veggies and fruits lower in sugar content such as berries and apples,” Dr. Riar explained.

She says an example of a healthy breakfast that incorporates these tips to help prevent overeating is an omelet with some yogurt or cottage cheese, instead of sugary, starchy cereal.

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