A second helping of something delicious always sounds appealing, but more often than not, we’re not actually hungry when we reach for that extra scoop: we just want to continue the pleasure of eating. If you’re prone to eating well past the point of fullness, it’s time for a dose of mindfulness instead.
Here are 7 tricks I use to make sure my extra helpings don’t start hurting:
1) Do the math: One pound is 3500 calories. Taking an extra piece of cake that is 700 calories (yes, many do have that many or more) will make you gain 1/5 of a pound. Do that 5 days this week, and you will have gained a whole pound. Continue that pattern for the whole year and you will gain over 50lbs. Is it worth it?
2) Save something for tomorrow: I often wonder if we go for more food because we think that food makes us happy, and if we stop eating, we will become sad. We might even think that we might miss the food or miss out on joy if we do not eat as much of it as possible. Don’t worry. You can always have it again. Tell yourself, “Stop now and have more tomorrow.” Chances are that you won’t even want it again once it’s time to make the choice tomorrow, but knowing you have options can help you gain control in that moment.
3) Have a little talk with your taste buds: Be honest. Was the pizza really THAT good, or do you just believe it was good because it’s pizza and of course pizza is good? Do you really want another piece? Put some thought into it. If it wasn’t even good, why waste the calories?
4) Don’t make enough: If you only cook up one serving per person, you won’t have enough for seconds. Even if you are just cooking for you, measure out one serving and stick to it so that you don’t have a cooked option for seconds once you finish your first helping.
5) Stay the course: There’s no reason why you can’t eat “restaurant-style” every night (if you chalk out the time and plan). Eat in courses. Have a low cal appetizer like stuffed mushrooms, steamed clams or veggies dipped in hummus. Then, have a large starter salad. Follow that with a bowl of broth based soup and then bring out your main course plate filled with a lean protein, veggies and a small serving of grains. With four courses, chances are that you won’t be going for “seconds” anytime soon.
6) Occupy your hands and your mind for 20 minutes: Do something, anything, for 20 minutes after your first helping. Go for a walk, call a friend, read or have a little loving. There’s a good chance that, by the time that 20 mins expires, you won’t even think you are hungry anymore. If you do still want more food, hopefully the time will have helped you consider healthier options, like a dessert apple instead of the higher calorie second helping of that main course.
7) Override your caveman brain: The primitive parts of our brain are wired for scarcity. Several millennia ago, that was helpful – we knew to eat while the eatin’ was good. It made sense to stuff your face quickly with whatever food source you happen to stumble across so you could then make a beeline away from potential predators lurking nearby. These days, odds are good there isn’t a leopard waiting in the wings for you to let your guard down by the dessert bar. So practice being mindful as you eat. Savor each bite. Appreciate how it looks on the spoon or feels on your tongue. You need to consciously remind your brain that it isn’t feast or famine anymore. And the only predator these days is you.