Three Tricks to Stop Feeling Out of Control with Food

For years, I could look at any food and know how many calories it had. My mind was in a constant internal negotiation about what I could or couldn’t eat.

You would think that carefully calculating everything I ate gave me a sense of control with food. But my experience was just the opposite. I knew so much about the nutritional breakdown of food that my entire eating experience was in my mind. I was totally cut off from the information from my body.

When I started to feel hungry I became anxious if it was not my planned time to eat. My mind started reeling with the “expert advice” that I read in so many health and fitness magazines to “trick” and “curb” my hunger and cravings. I believed that the longer I could keep myself from eating, the more willpower I had.

In this game of fighting for control, my body always won. I always fell off my inflexible plan, felt out of control and felt like I was the failure. The thing was, no matter how “healthy” the plan was that I made up, it had zero consideration of my body’s day-to-day changing needs (or even basic hunger signals!).

I feel much more in control and confident when I’m eating these days. What changed everything for me was shifting my attention to how I ate, rather than obsessing about what I ate.

If you think this could be helpful for you, here are…

3 Tricks to Get In Control with Food :

  1. Chew. I talk about this one all the time because it’s so powerful and has to be practiced until it becomes your intuitive (you don’t even have to think about it) habit. These days you probably put bite after bite in your mouth without fully breaking down the food. In this rushing to get to the next bite, you miss the flavors and textures of your food. Yes, your body needs food for fuel but it’s also seeking an experience of enjoyment. When you deprive yourself of the “enjoyment factor” you will keep going back for more, probably even after you’re full. Studies show you will also end up eating again sooner because your brain won’t have a strong recollection of reaching satisfaction. See how helpful it is to slow down and chew, chew, chew. It really doesn’t take that much longer than rushing!
  2. Put your fork down. I talked about this in a recent one minute Food Sanity video. After you take a bite and start chewing, put your fork down. (Same with any other utensil you’re using–spoon, knife, chopsticks–or the food itself if it’s a sandwich or other finger food.) It’s easy to get into a habit of loading your fork back up again before you’ve even swallowed what’s in your mouth. When you’re focused on the bite in your mouth, you will feel less rushed, more calm and be able to hear you body reaching satiation rather than eating quickly and hitting that overly full point.
  3. Pause. At some point during your meal or snack, take a full pause. This is good to practice when you’re about 60% done with the portion you imagine is appropriate for your hunger level. Let your hands rest in your lap so you don’t feel rushed to take another bite. Deepen your breath. Take a look at your plate, take a look around the space your are in and check in with your body. Take your next bite when you feel like you’ve had a bit of a break. Pausing to check in with your breath and body will get you out of any unhelpful, judgey thoughts in your head and support you to feel confident.

Obviously eating won’t always be this way. Sometimes I eat on-the-go or standing at my kitchen counter top. But, these practices have created ease and confidence in my eating experience. It has been a much better alternative to obsessing in my head the whole meal. I hope you feel the difference, too!

Tight squeeze,