Everyone knows what it feels like after you overindulge. You might be sluggish, bloated, queasy or a combination of all three. It’s normal to occasionally overdo it, but if you’re experiencing these classic overeating side effects on a regular basis, it may be time to understand why.
Here are five common pitfalls that lead to overeating, plus tips on how to curb the habit:
1. MINDLESS EATING AT SOCIAL EVENTS
When you’re trying to fit in at a party or other social gathering, the food table often serves as a safe zone. Eating gives you something to do, but hovering over the cheese board or bowl of chips and guac the entire night is an easy way to overindulge.
“If you’re not hungry, don’t spend time at a party mindlessly noshing,” says dietitian Amy Gorin, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition. If, however, you’re actually hungry, she suggests scanning the buffet table first so you can make smart decisions about what you want.
“Grab a small plate, fill up a third to half of it with the food you set your eyes on, then pile the rest with fruit and veggies,” she advises.
2. NOT GETTING THE RIGHT NUTRIENTS
If you consistently find yourself overeating despite your best intentions, you may not be loading up on the right foods.
“A lunchtime entree salad with just veggies isn’t going to fill you up,” Gorin says. “If you don’t add some filling ingredients to your salad, you’re going to get hungry very quickly and potentially overeat because of that,” she explains.
Conversely, eating too many refined carbs — like white bread, pasta or sugar — can also cause you to overeat.
“Refined carbs may initially provide an energy boost,” says dietitian Jennifer Glockner, creator of Smartee Plate. “However, an insulin spike may lead to a sugar crash, which will make you hungry [again], so you will eat too soon.”
3. MISJUDGING PORTION SIZES
It’s easy to overeat if you don’t know how much you should be eating. Of course, portion sizesvary for each individual depending on factors like age and activity level, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to create a healthy, balanced meal.
To start, Glockner suggests filling half your plate with fruits and veggies and the other half with a serving of lean protein and whole grains.