One of my all-time favorite scientific experiments (yes, I have a list of favorites) is the “marshmallow study” that started at Stanford University in 1960. In the study, a researcher brings a 4-year-old child into a room with a table with a plate containing a single marshmallow. Then, the experimenter tells the child that he or she can eat the marshmallow now…or if they can wait for a few minutes without eating it…they can have another marshmallow. Basically, it’s one marshmallow now, or two marshmallows later. Your choice. Then the experimenter leaves the room.
Not surprisingly, some of the children give in quickly and eat the first marshmallow, and others are able to hold out for the second one. Where the study really gets interesting though…is that these children were followed by the research team at Stanford for decades after the initial experiment.
Long term follow-up confirmed that children who could hold out for the big reward–those who delay gratification — were more successful in every respect than their more indulgent counterparts. Willpower is a powerful determinant of success in virtually everything you set out to do. This article by my team at UpWellness will help you along the road to improved willpower in one of the most difficult challenges…overeating.
Do you struggle with self-control? If you said yes, you are not alone. We live in a country where food, all kinds of it, is readily accessible. Most people in American don’t have to hunt or forage for food, and this has created a society of over-consumers. Unfortunately, even if you are eating healthy food, it is imperative to exert self-control and eat mindfully if you want to experience ultimate health and wellbeing.
Here are 10 things you can do right now to stop overeating and regain control over your diet and health:
Don’t eat when distracted: Do you work through your lunch or munch on snacks while watching your favorite television show? If so, you are probably a distracted eater and consuming far more calories than necessary without even knowing it. Before mealtime, do everything you can to carve out time specifically to eat, nothing else. Put away computers, phones and don’t eat in front of the television. You will be amazed at how much more control you have when all you are doing is eating and nothing else.
Skip seconds; Seconds are a big issue for many people. Generally speaking, if you limit your meals to firsts only, you will eat far less. When you cook, avoid making dishes where there is enough for seconds. That will take care of the issue pretty quickly.
Don’t eat from containers: Perhaps this conjures up an image of someone with a big tub of ice cream digging away. However, eating just about anything out of its container or packaging can lead to overeating. Instead, portion out the meal/snack on a plate or in a bowl where you can see how much you are actually eating.
Be mindful: When you eat, think about how you feel when you eat. Be present with all of your senses and enjoy eating. Research shows that mindful eating helps to control binge eating. Eat slowly, tasting each bite and be aware of what you are eating. This focus will help you feel satisfied.
Eat fiber-rich foods: Foods that are rich in fiber will keep you satisfied longer. Studies show that people who eat fiber-rich food versus those who don’t feel satisfied and fuller for longer.
Keep a journal: Keeping a food and mood journal helps you to discover more about yourself and your eating habits. The more in tune you are with your body, the more likely you are to regulate your food intake in a healthy way. Looking at what you eat on paper will help you be honest and accountable. Research shows that self-monitoring can result in weight loss and self-control.
Regulate your blood sugar: When your blood sugar is all over the place, it is difficult to feel satisfied which can result in a vicious cycle of overeating. Choose foods that have a minimal impact on blood sugar, limit carbs, especially fast and processed foods, and focus on foods that will help keep your blood sugar at a steady state. These include foods like beans, oatmeal, and brown rice. Also, be sure that you are consuming plenty of healthy fat such as that found in avocados, nuts, coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil.
Be prepared: The less prepared we are when it comes to eating, the easier it is to eat too much and too much of the wrong food. Make a meal plan and a shopping list and never go shopping when you are hungry. Keep healthy snacks in your car and your desk so that you can resist the temptation to go off the rails.
Drink more water: Water helps to hydrate the body and keep us feeling satisfied. A lot of the time when you think that you are hungry you are actually thirsty. Always drink some water first before reaching for a snack Wait about 15 minutes after drinking the water to assess if you are still hungry.
Stay clear of fad diets: Moderation is not about not eating at all or following some strange fad diet like eating only celery or soup. Health and wellbeing are the results of staying in touch with your body, knowing what you can tolerate and what gives you energy and eating a diet centered around whole and nutritious foods.
-The UpWellness Team