Top 20 Reasons For Being Overweight - Part 2

In this blog, we're into Part 2 of the Top 20 reasons that we find ourselves overweight in the first place. So, whether you're about to commence your own weight loss journey or you're part way through and looking for some inspiration to give your journey a boost, here are the reasons 4, 5 and 6 that contribute to people being over weight;

4 Portions sizes.

Portion sizes were always bound to feature fairly early on in this Top 20; the fact is, many of us just eat too much.

There are lots of reasons why many of us eat more then we need to at mealtimes; not least, having it 'conditioned' within us from an early age to 'clean our plate'! – One of the things this teaches us is to ‘eat with our eyes’. In other words, we rely on our eyes to inform us when we’ve had enough to eat, because we can see the plate’s empty!

So here are a few tips to help you moderate your portion sizes ...

4.1 Don't wait until you're 'absolutely famished' before deciding to eat. As a rule of thumb, the hungrier we are, the more likely we are to make poorer food choices and eat more of it! If you're moderately hungry, it might be a good time to eat. If it's inconvenient or the wrong time to begin preparing a meal, then a healthy snack may just satisfy that hunger craving until meal time.

4.2 Drink plenty of water. You'll see this crop up time and time again, water really is a miracle ingredient for a whole host of reasons; but particularly when you want to lose weight. As well as keeping your skin hydrated and flushing out toxins, drinking water before a meal partially fills your stomach meaning you'll eat less. Drinking water when you're feeling 'snacky' will also allow that 'snacky' feeling (usually dehydration) to just disappear.

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4.3 Use smaller plates. Simple, but effective. Just using a smaller dinner plate allows you to trick your own mind into feeling that you’re not being 'short changed' at meal times.

4.4 Weigh out your food. Weighing out individual portion sizes can be a useful way to become acquainted with recommended portion sizes of certain foods.

4.5 Eat slowly. Really chew and savour each and enjoy every mouthful, then as soon as you begin to feel full, STOP and push your plate away. Your stomach will alert you that you've had enough for your physical needs.

4.6 Put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls. This is another way of slowing down your eating speed and might seem awkward at first. But after a surprisingly small amount of time doing this consciously, you'll be amazed at how easily it becomes second nature.

4.7 Don't eat in front of the television. Or any other distraction for that matter, books, newspapers, computer, etc. When we’re eating whilst already being 'absorbed' in something else, this can cause us to miss the signals from our stomachs that tell us we’re satisfied. Instead, it’s best to treat meal times as an ‘event’ in itself, where you can allow yourself to be more mindful of what you’re eating, free from distractions.

4.8 Plan ahead for another meal.  If you've made more then you need of a certain dish (e.g, chilli, spag bol, etc), instead of piling it onto your plate or leaving it lying handily around for seconds, why not dish up more portions then you need and freeze some?

4.9 When eating out, sometimes it’s just best to keep out of temptations way!  'All You Can Eat' deals or self service restaurants such as carveries and banquets are far more likely to lead to us piling our plates up, so that we ‘get our monies worth’. Instead, how about choosing restaurants that specialise in smaller portions or ‘lighter bites’?. Or, instead of a starter and main course, try two starters.

4.10 Decide when to stop, first! If you find yourself being over-faced, particularly in a restaurant, decide what you're going to leave BEFORE you start the meal. Almost sounds like a daft idea, but in your heart of hearts, you know how much smaller that portion size should really be. Therefore, before you begin eating, deliberately push some of the food to the side of your plate making a conscious decision to leave that amount. Then just plan to eat the rest. Those feelings of guilt will soon start to disappear when you leave food on your plate. In fact, you can feel really good about leaving food behind because it reminds you that you really are in control.

5 Make Sure You Have Breakfast

If there’s only one change you make to your eating habits, the one that will have a massive effect on fat burning, it’s to spend 15 minutes every morning having breakfast. Better still, if you’re able to, have breakfast with your partner or family. This way, not only will you get a physical benefit, you’ll start the day with a mental lift.

Anyone that’s ever tried out popular slimming plans such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World will already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; it kick-starts our metabolism. Our bodies’ metabolic rate is much lower overnight when we’re in bed. By and large, it stays that way until we’ve eaten those first few morsels of the day, after which it speeds up, allowing our bodies to burn off calories more efficiently.

It goes without saying then that those people who skip breakfast and don’t eat until lunch-time, have just wasted 5 or 6 hours of ‘calorie burning’ time …. Every day!! - As we’re only awake for about 16 or 17 hours a day, it’s crucial that we don’t waste a third of that time.

A common misconception is that skipping breakfast means we will take in fewer calories, which therefore is bound to help us in losing weight. This really is NOT the case.

Any diet or eating pattern that involves an element of ‘fasting’, will lead the body to switching into ‘survival mode’, prioritising the channelling of essential nutrients to vital organs and slowing down the metabolic rate to conserve energy. People who regularly skip breakfast can experience this in feeling lethargic or low on energy throughout the morning. Also, in ‘survival mode’ our bodies tend to ‘store’ more food when we do eventually decide to eat, The effect of all this will actually cause us to maintain or even gain weight rather than reducing it.

But hang on …”, I often hear. “Whenever I have a breakfast in a morning, I’m starving again by ten o’clock!”.

Yes, this can often be true and there’s a reason for this. It’s generally down to our choice of breakfast. Most breakfast cereals, cereal bars or ‘white bread’ toast, tend to just give us a quick, sugary ‘hit’, then drop us again an hour or two later. Breakfasts such as Weetabix, Shredded Wheat, Bran Flakes, All Bran, Porridge, wholemeal toast or bananas give us a sustained release of energy throughout the morning and are far less likely to leave us feeling hungry between breakfast and lunch.

Many people tell me that they just can’t face anything to eat first thing in a morning. One of the main causes of this is dehydration. Once your body becomes accustomed to receiving about a litre of water for every five stones of body weight, most of your normal bodily processes will begin to work normally, meaning you’ll be able to wake up feeling more alert and refreshed and ready to eat. It doesn’t need to be a banquet; just a few mouthfuls is all that is required to kick-start your metabolism

If you work shift patterns, breakfast is classed as your first meal after you wake up; so although the timings may be different, the principle is just the same.

6 Eating speed.

Eating speed and portion sizes tend to be fairly closely linked. A good way to demonstrate this, is to think about hunger on a scale of 1 to 10; where at ‘1’ you’re so famished, you’re almost passing out and at ‘10’, you’re completely stuffed, ‘Christmas Dinner’ style!

People who wait until they get down to a ‘1’ on this scale, will tend to make much poorer food choices, will eat a lot faster, will eat much more and will often eat all the way up until they reach ‘10’ on the scale.

Whereas, those who decide to eat when they’re just ‘moderately’ hungry, lets say a 2 ½ or 3 on the scale, will have tended to have planned better, will make much healthier food choices, will generally be eating much slower, will eat less and will stop eating when they feel ‘satisfied’, perhaps a 7 on the scale.

Also, as with ‘Portion Sizes’, we can lose track of our eating speed if we’re eating in front of the television or other distraction.

Eating quickly can tend to cause us to miss the signals from our stomachs, that tell us we’re satisfied. When combined with a few other tweaks to our eating habits, slowing our eating speed down can have a significant impact on our weight.

A good tip to help us get into the habit of eating slower is to practice putting your knife and fork down in between mouthfuls; fast eater will typically ‘re-load’ their fork whilst they are chewing the existing mouthful.  Being conscious of putting your knife and fork down and only picking it up again once you’ve swallowed what’s in your mouth, is a very good way to ‘train’ ourselves into eating slower.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t come easy at first; in fact, it can feel quite awkward at first. But, if you can concentrate on consciously putting your knife and fork down in between mouthfuls for just two weeks, it will have almost certainly become an unconscious habit within that time. Give it a try, see how you get on!

But won’t my meal go cold?” – Well, that's a good point and one I can relate to; I was once a fast eater myself for the same reason. Someone suggested to me to warm the plates up in the oven and that was that. I now habitually warm the plates up, can eat much slower and my meal doesn’t go cold.

Another reason I often come across as to why some people eat quickly, is that when they were a young child, if they weren’t quick to finish their meal, their older brothers would begin to help themselves as soon as they had polished their own meals off! 

The key is to recognise what the real reason is that we may eat quickly, then either figure out a way of satisfying that need (as in my case), or identifying the real reason and putting into context in todays terms. Quite often, just being aware of the true reason for a certain behaviour, is enough to put that behaviour into a new context and change it.
More next time. If you missed Part 1, you can find it again by clicking the link below;-
Best wishes