If there is one thing that will kill any hope of weight loss, it’s going back for a second or third helping. No doubt that first plate was piled nice and high with food, and you should definitely stop with just the one plate. But that delicious, tempting food is too hard to resist, so you go back for more. And more. And more. Before you realize it, you’ve overdone it on calories and set back your diet efforts a few more days/weeks.
Want to know how to stop yourself from overeating? Cornell University found a very simple trick: put the food away.
In a study conducted at the university, participants were given bowls of soup to enjoy. However, some of the bowls were designed to be continuously refilling as the participants ate the soup. By the time they declared themselves “done”, they had eating 73% MORE than those who ate from regular bowls–bowls they had to stand up and fill themselves.
The result of this study was clear: if food is in front of you, you’re going to eat it, and it’s going to be harder to say no. To give yourself a chance to avoid overeating, put your food away (in the fridge or back in the kitchen) as soon as you serve yourself.
Ideally, you should be cooking meals with exactly the right serving size. Only prepare what you are going to eat, and you’ll never have to worry about serving yourself seconds or thirds. You can measure each portion of your meal perfectly, keeping those carbs, proteins, and fats nicely balanced. Once the meal is cooked, sit down and enjoy exactly the right amount of food.
But for those who are enjoying dinners as a family or sharing a meal with others, it can be a bit harder to stop eating when the food is sitting right in front of you. It’s too easy to simply serve yourself another helping of pasta or scoop another piece of meat loaf onto your plate. It’s right there, so it’s tempting and way too convenient.
Instead of serving your food on the table, have all of the food served in the kitchen. Everyone can get up to serve themselves, which may actually help EVERYONE to eat less. After all, it’s “so much work” to get up, walk to the kitchen, and refill your plate.
But for those of us who are trying to avoid overeating, this may not be enough. Instead, you may want to actually put the food away in the fridge once you’ve served yourself. Load your plate with as much food as you can eat at the meal, then put the rest in Tupperware containers away in the fridge. You will be WAY less likely to overeat thanks to this trick, as the food being “put away” tells your mind that it is not available to eat. It’s a simple “mind over matter” trick that has the potential to stop you from overeating.
Bonus: Did you know that you will feel just as full whether or not you go back for that second helping? The same study mentioned above discovered that the participants who ate multiple portions rated their fullness the same as those who ate less. Just because you THINK going back for that next helping will make you feel more full, that may not necessarily be the case. Eating a measured portion is the best way to control your food intake, and you’ll find that you will be just as satisfied once you clear your plate.