May the Force be With You – How to Avoid Overeating Traps

This week I have been thinking about the psychology of overeating again. I have had a great week but there are points in life where your resolve to eat healthily often get tested and I had several of these occur last week.

I went out for a meal with an old university friend – now the main reason we do this is to catch up on our lives so it’s the chat, not the food that matter. We met on the first day at university and have been friends ever since (over 35 years) even though our lives were very different, to begin with, we have very similar ways of looking at the world now and both did a biochemistry degree so we enjoy a philosophical chat without husbands and children in earshot.

However, eating out can make you think oh sod it, I’ll eat whatever I want. I have discovered a way to avoid falling in this trap. What I do is check the menu online before I go and resolve to choose what I like to eat (generally salmon or sea bass is they have it) but also what will be healthy and not masses of calories and I put it in my FitBit app on my ‘phone. It takes that emotional impulse out of eating out.  It helped that my lovely friend is struggling with her menopause weight. She is trying to kick her sugar habit and was refusing to eat any dessert. I have to say sugar is not my addiction of choice and I tend to go for cheese and salt-rich foods. We also drove to the restaurant as we both live a long way from each other so have to meet at Hatfield Galleria which is in the middle for both of us. This meant I could drink my favourite sparkling water instead of calorie-laden gin and tonic. We had a great evening and I didn’t overeat what could be better than that. Eating out does takes a bit more planning to stay healthy but it is worth it.

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Saturday, I went to a Star Wars themed 25th wedding anniversary party (yes really) dress code was dark side or light side (basically black or white). However, there was a free bar and buffet food (which is probably the least nutritious food on the planet), and really tests resolve. Again before I went I planned how many glasses of wine I would have and how many sausage rolls and decided that I would dance as much as possible and talk to anyone that looked interesting to keep me away from the buffet table. This strategy worked really well as there was a brilliant live band ( No Limits Street Band) and I racked up 25,000 steps dancing and had a fun night watching my funny brother dance with the party host (dressed as a stormtrooper) and I didn’t overeat or drink too much.

On Sunday, I was very tired and this is when I tend to want junk food. Again to avoid stuffing crisps down (my go-to comfort food) I ran a nice hot bath using my favourite Sanctuary bubble bath. Having a bath or shower when you want to stuff food in is a great diversion tactic, you can’t eat crisps in a bath they just get all soggy!

bath

My top tips to avoid overeating and comfort eating are:

  1. If eating at a restaurant check the menu before and choose the healthy stuff you like to eat before you go (add it to your tracker so you know the calories) that way you’ll feel less tempted in the restaurant.
  2. At a party, again plan what you’ll eat and drink before (even put it in your FitBit or tracker so that you know the calorie intake) and try to dance or chat to interesting people as this will keep you from the buffet table.
  3. Feeling tired and want to eat junk food (do something to distract yourself like have a bath or read a book/magazine).
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drsuepearson

I'm a science writer and presenter.

One thought on “May the Force be With You – How to Avoid Overeating Traps”

  1. The size of restaurant meals varies a lot, and I love those with small plates : pay less, buy another if you need to, share for fun. As for buffets, I always land up with a midden on my plate — too many incompatible items.

    Liked by 1 person

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