6 Ways To Combat Overeating
Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. These tips are what I use to tackle the impulse of overeating during intermittent fasting. What you'll find below are in regards to intermittent fasting, and unrelated to medical conditions such as binge eating disorder.
Overeating is a common problem among intermittent fast-ers. There'll come a time when we trick ourselves into believing we can eat a whole lot, in a short period, because fasting will balance off what we're about to consume. We believe, with the evidence of results, that fasting will counter our bad habits. But let's face reality - fasting isn't a free pass to unhealthy eating. And if we continue to buy into the idea that it is, we could possibly develop an eating disorder. Wouldn't that make us worse off than before?
Personally, I'm no stranger to binging. After a month of intermittent fasting, I began consuming more food than usual. While on a 3 meal a day plan, I had better control over food portions and rarely stuffed myself. But because of a build up appetite, I started breaking fast with copious amounts of food - some unhealthy too. Thankfully, it didn't take me long to realise what was happening.
So, I went on the internet to find ways to keep overeating at bay. Unfortunately, there aren't many sources out there, despite it being a challenge for many. Determined to stick to IF for the long run, without destroying my body, I decided to implement a few tricks of my own. And guess what... they work! No, I'm not going to keep them to myself - what kind of person would I be?
I've broken down my tricks into two tactical approaches: physical and mental. Physical tactics are what you can do physically, while mental tactics are ways to psych yourself into a right mindset. So without further ado, here they are:
#1 Water Before & After
We break fast with an intent to satiate our hunger with food. And most of the time, we completely ignore water in the process. Why? Because we all know water make us fuller, faster. And perhaps we unintentionally ignore it, due to our craving for something solid. Admitting this introduces a simple solution: including water into our meals.
Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal - this will help with digestion and stop your stomach from growling in demand. Then, drink another glass of water after your meal - this will give you a fuller sensation. Once you feel full, you know it's time to stop. It's that simple.
#2 Break Fast With Protein
Protein is a complex macro that takes awhile to break down. So what better way to break fast than with protein? High-protein foods will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. And by consuming it first, it'll assist in satiating hunger.
Personally, I'll have a protein shake 30-60 minutes before my meal. I find that it makes a significant difference, as I'm not in a 'ravenous beast' mode at meal time. When I don't have my protein shake however, I tend to eat more. So to prevent that from happening, I'll have the chicken before anything else.
#3 Avoid Sugar & Starch
Consuming sugar and starch spikes the insulin levels in our bodies. This sudden increase will result in a hungrier you. Why? Insulin works as a regulator for blood sugar. When we consume carbohydrates, which are digested rather quickly, our blood sugar increases. When blood sugar increases, insulin kicks in to bring our sugar levels down. The sudden drop of sugar will make you tired... and hungry.
You know how some people say they have a separate stomach for dessert? Well, the fact is, we all have a separate stomach for dessert. When we down a slice of cake, the insulin process takes place. And suddenly, our appetite is stimulated. If we continue to feed ourselves more carbohydrates during that time... well, that's when the eating never stops.
Now, I'm not saying don't eat carbohydrates - it's essential, kind of. But sugar and starch are unrefined carbohydrates that you'd want to avoid, while whole grains and fruits are what you should have instead. They're natural and contain fiber, which slows the digestion of carbohydrates. If carbohydrates are the cause of your binge eating episodes, then re-look into your diet (and perhaps consider going keto) to prevent it from happening again.
#1 Visualise Your Food
Let's add a little imagination into play. Pull up an imagery of a dining table in your head - add candles to it if you wish. Then, while you're dining in reality, fill your imaginary table with the food you've already consumed.
By seeing the food in one big picture, you can easily tell if you've had too much (or too little). You can also gauge the amount of calories. It's normal to lose yourself when dining on glorious food, but tracking will keep you grounded. Use your imagination to stay in reality. Or... just get a food journal - whatever works for you.
#2 Understand The Risks
If you stumbled upon this post because you're looking for a solution to your overeating problem, then you probably understand its risk. That's great! Being aware we're engaging in detrimental habits is the start. But if you came upon this post by chance, learning about the risk is your first step.
Binge eating, once in a while, will not harm you. But binge eating every meal will. It can become a disorder, and set you back on your path to healthy eating. The reason why we do intermittent fasting is because we want to develop a healthy eating pattern. If binge eating is something that pops up because of IF, you can either find a solution or stop IF altogether. At the end of the day, our health is the priority.
#3 Know You're In Control
Sometimes, feeling full doesn't actually curb our appetite. Sometimes, we have this insatiable craving even when we know we should stop. So, how do we pull back and exercise self-control? We have to know, and believe, we're in control. We're the masters of our bodies. Having a healthy relationship with food starts with us.
Before every meal, turn off auto-pilot and choose to fly on your own. Be prepared to stop when you know you've had enough. And don't be afraid to say 'no' to the temptation of more. Don't let food dictate your life. It's easy to give it control when you've not faced it all day, but doing so will only lead to a toxic relationship. And that's not what intermittent fasting is about.
BONUS TACTIC: The Warrior Fast
Personally, after starting the warrior fast, I no longer find myself binge eating during my feeding window. On top of that, I don't crave for desserts and snacks - it's strange because I am/was a sweet-tooth. As much as I'm in control of my body, my body has resolved to eating cleaner on its own. And along with a suppressed appetite, my nutrition has never been better. I would suggest looking into the warrior fast if all else fails - it has worked for me, and might work for you too.
If you're struggling with binge eating due to intermittent fasting, I sincerely hope these tips are of help. Moving forward, I intend to share more on my warrior fast. If you're curious on what it is, you can read my previous post HERE.
Till next week, stay in control!
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