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Don’t overdo it

13 November 2021

If you tend to overeat at times, naturopath Deanna Copland suggests these simple changes will help you to avoid going too far.

We all know that feeling of eating too much. Some people do it every day. Sometimes it is healthy food consumed, sometimes not. Is this a result of having to finish everything on our plates, as we were taught growing up? Is it due to emotional factors? Or are poor food choices leading to nutrient deficiencies? The psychology of eating is a complex issue. Eating the right amount of the right food can help to keep blood sugar levels stable and leave you feeling much more energetic.

Kill off comfort eating

Think about why you’re eating. Are you actually hungry? Or, are you eating because you’re feeling sad, anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, happy, bored – or all of the above? Many people eat to numb themselves from feelings they’d prefer not to feel. Typically, the go-to culprits are chocolate, lollies, biscuits or potato chips – things that we perceive to provide some comfort (which, in the short-term may do just that, but leave you feeling annoyed with yourself in the long term).

Top tips

  • It is important to disconnect food from your reward system, and start rewarding yourself with other fulfilling activities. When you’re not hungry but find yourself peering into the fridge, try to find comfort in non-food related ways, for example: go for a walk, read a book, phone a distant friend or treat yourself to a relaxing bath.
  • If you work from home, it can be beneficial to make a packed lunch for yourself in the morning and only consume that.
  • Only eating your food off a plate can also be a healthy habit to prevent mindless eating.

Avoid the snack attack

If you are prone to snacking on poor-quality foods, often around mid-afternoon or before dinner, consider what you last ate.

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Sushi, a honey sandwich or pasta salad provide a lot of carbohydrates which, once digested, cause a spike in insulin and blood sugar levels and then a rapid decline. This can cause energy levels to drop, irritability or anxiety to creep in, and can lead to impulsive, poor food choices.

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A better lunch option might be a roast pumpkin salad with avocado, blanched broccoli, flaked salmon fillet and an oil-based dressing. The healthy fats from the salmon, avocado and dressing would slow the absorption of the carbohydrates, creating a more sustaining effect.

Salads don’t need to be boring

  • If you make extra vegetables with your evening meal, these can be added to fresh baby spinach or rocket leaves and fresh herbs.
  • Add a protein source, such as: tinned salmon, a boiled egg, halloumi strips, shredded chicken or leftover cold meat.
  • Finish it off with a healthy dressing and you have a delicious, nourishing meal that should sustain you until the next mealtime. A tasty dressing can make all the difference.

Hydrate your cells

Dehydration can also be confused with hunger. By keeping a jug of water on your bench at home and a water bottle in your car, then you are more likely to consume it. Being well hydrated helps our body’s cells to communicate with each other and function properly.

Creamy Green Goddess Dressing

1 ripe avocado, halved and flesh scooped
½ lime (juice only)
Small handful mint, coriander or basil
1 tsp capers, drained
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp water
Pinch of salt and cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add an extra tablespoon of water if needed, to form a pourable consistency. Check the flavour and add more lime juice, salt or cayenne pepper if desired.

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