Help, I’ve overindulged!

Pam's PizzaAs a fitness and health professional, I know better.  But I still find myself splurging on my favorite comfort foods (burritos, pizza, pasta, etc).  Okay, maybe splurge is too mild of a word. I admit it. I tend to go totally overboard at times!  What I’m talking about is eating to the point I feel over-full.  Loosen the belt buckle, unbutton the pants.  That miserable, uncomfortable, almost sick to your stomach feeling. Help, I’ve overindulged!

Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s fine to eat the foods you like in moderation.  Have you ever tried to cut out your favorite indulgent food?  You know what happens, you just end up wanting it more.  Research shows that eating the foods we like fulfills an emotional and mental need.  But how do we enjoy the foods we want without the risk of overindulging?

  1. Pair the food you like with or just following a healthy meal.  We tend to eat more of a food item, especially when it comes to high fat, salty or sweet foods, if that food is eaten alone, say as a snack.  If you fill up on nutritious food first and satisfy your true hunger, you will eat less of the unhealthy item.
  2. While eating a healthy meal with your favorite snack is one strategy to keeping from overindulging, keep in mind it is possible to overindulge even on healthier choices leading to that uncomfortably full feeling and ultimately to weight gain.  PamAny excess calories taken in that are not utilized by the body in the 3 – 4 hours following a meal are stored as fat. So, if you have overindulged – get moving!  While food is designed to give us energy, a really large meal (think Thanksgiving dinner) will likely cause us to feel lethargic.  I’m not suggesting you engage in a vigorous workout, but a light walk or other activity of your choice will do. The key is simply to move.  Want more ideas on moving?  Check out Brittany Skillman’s post Stay Active During the Holidays.
  3. Learn to listen to your body’s cues.  In today’s fast paced world, multi-tasking rules.  Do you check your phone or email while you eat?  Or eat in front of the television?  When we’re tuned in to other devices, we tune out signals that we are getting full.  Being more mindful while we eat can help keep us from overindulging. Turn off all media and devices and focus in on the taste, smell and texture of the food you’re eating.
  4. Slow down.  Are you guilty of inhaling your food? It takes the body and brain many minutes to process the food we have eaten and translate that into a feeling of satiety or fullness. Next time you eat, stop several bites prior to feeling full.  (Refer back to number 3 above, listening to your body’s signals.) Wait 15 – 20 minutes after eating to assess if you are full or still hungry.  On the hunger satiety scale this translates to a 4 or 5.Hunger Scale
  5. American-size portions are about twice the amount of food we actually need at one time.  Next time you eat, try cutting your “regular size portion” in half.  This is an especially important strategy when eating out.

While I haven’t completely conquered my overindulgent beast, I have begun to suppress the urge. I remind myself how if feels to be uncomfortably full and realize that I simply don’t want to feel that miserable. I’ve also recognized that being tired and in pain has caused me to miss out of fun in the past.  The food that tasted great for a few minutes caused me to feel far worse for much longer.  When I bring my attention to how I’m feeling when I eat, I get to truly enjoy what I’m eating without the overindulging.

What do you do when you over indulge?  How to you keep yourself from getting uncomfortably full?  Share your comments below!


About Author

Pam Cole

Sr Manager, Recreation and Fitness

Pam has been at SAS Institute for over 20 years and has worked in fitness for over 25 years. An avid Tarheel fan, Pam graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a double major in Communications and Radio Television Motion Pictures. She began teaching group exercise classes while in Chapel Hill and still loves it. In addition to teaching group exercise, she is a certified personal trainer with the National Sports Performance Association as a Pre and Post-Rehab Exercise Specialist. In her spare time, she likes to garden, do rehab projects on her home and cook.

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