5 Ways to Beat Overeating Throughout the Day

5 Ways to Beat Overeating Throughout the DayBy Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. Associate Nutrition Editor, EatingWell Magazine

If you find yourself overindulging throughout the day--second breakfast in the morning, ravenously snacking in the afternoon, a little too much dessert at night--we have news for you. New research sheds light on tips and tricks that may help you to curb overeating throughout the day. Tori Rodriguez reported on these studies for the July/August issue of EatingWell Magazine to help you keep overeating in check:

8 a.m.: Fatten up your breakfast.
Participants who were given a higher-fat (61%) breakfast ate less at their next meal than those who ate a calorically equal, but lower-fat, breakfast, in a study in the April 2011 issue of Appetite. Get some healthy fats at breakfast by spreading avocado or peanut butter on your toast.

Recipes to Try: Breakfasts That Fight Fat

1 p.m.: Focus on your food.
Make a point to take note of how your lunch looks, smells and tastes. Women who did this ate less of their afternoon snack (by about 130 calories) than those who ate lunch while reading the newspaper and even those who just ate without any distraction, according to an August 2011 study in Appetite. Researchers think that could be because the women paid more attention to what they were eating (both at lunch and at snack).

Related: Is Eating at Your Desk Making You Gain Weight?
Soup or Sandwich: Which Lunch Is Better for Weight Loss?

3 p.m.: Pack a healthy snack.
If you go too long between meals, you might be more prone to feast on high-calorie foods when you do eat, says a study in the October 2011 Journal of Clinical Investigation. In a small study, participants looked at pics of low-cal and high-cal foods (like ice cream sundaes) between 2 and 4 hours after eating lunch and had their brains scanned. Researchers found that participants were much more interested in the high-cal foods when their blood sugar levels were low versus normal. Satisfy afternoon hunger--and avoid those tempting but less-healthy options--by planning ahead. Start by stocking these Healthy Snacks to Stash in Your Desk.

6 p.m.: Savor an appetizer.
When participants drank a savory beverage 30 minutes before a meal, they ate less of high-fat savory foods, like potato chips and ham sandwiches, during the meal than when they started with a sweet or bland drink, in a study in the January 2012 Journal of Nutrition. Study co-author Graham Finlayson, Ph.D., says sweet foods encourage eating, while savory foods may suppress hunger or enhance feelings of satiety. For proactive portion control, start your meal with a savory beverage or soup.

10 p.m.: Get enough rest.
Aim for 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye each night--less than that might cause you to eat more. That's because insufficient sleep can lower levels of leptin--a hormone that tells us when we've eaten enough--and also increases ghrelin, a hormone that signals the body to eat, according to a 2011 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related: 9 Foods to Help You Sleep

What's your best tip to curb overeating?

By Kerri-Ann Jennings

Kerri-Ann Jennings, a registered dietitian, is the associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, where she wields her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri-Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.


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