If you’ve spent any time on the Community forums, you’ll see that there are a lot of discussions about helping newcomers make sure they are eating enough when just starting Atkins. But what about the individual who finds themselves eating too much. There is also a common misperception that as long as the food you’re eating is considered low-carb; that you can eat as much as you want. Unfortunately, this is not true. Eating too much of anything will eventually cause you to gain weight. Let’s take a little quiz to see if you fall into this category:
Do you have trouble putting down your fork?
Do you eat what’s left on your kids’ plates, simply because it’s there?
Do you sometimes munch mindlessly when you’re sad or stressed out?
Do you often consume all your carbs for the day in one meal and then lose control of what you’re putting in your mouth a couple hours later?
Do you eat lightly during the day and feel ravenous by dinner or before bedtime?
Do you often skip meals, then overdo it at your next meal, simply because you’re so hungry?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re no stranger to overeating. You could be eating exactly how you should on Atkins, but if you’re still eating too much, you are in danger of sabotaging your weight-loss efforts. If it makes you feel any better, you’re in good company—overeating is incredibly common; not surprisingly, it’s especially problematic among people who are trying to lose weight. It’s not an inherent sign of weakness, nor simply a matter of poor self-control. Usually it has to do with not being aware of what or how much you’re eating or snacking just because food is there. Many of us have lost touch with our hunger cues because we’ve been over consuming for many years. Plus, when your blood sugar is unstable because you have a history of overdoing it on carbs or eating erratically, your appetite—and your noshing—can spiral into overdrive, causing you to consume more than you need or intend to.
The good news is that you can begin to tune in to the fullness factor and put an end to overeating by being mindful about what and when you eat. If you consume regular meals (not going more than four to six hours without solid food), as the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM advises, you’ll begin to stabilize your blood sugar, which will help you control your appetite. While you don’t typically measure protein and fat portions on Atkins (you do have to measure out portions of all carbs), especially during the weight-loss phases, the key is to eat until you are satisfied but not stuffed. How to tell the difference? When your belly is bloated, you’ve had too much. Feeling satisfied means your hunger has been pacified, or brought under control, and you could easily stop eating. You feel like you’ve had a sufficient amount to eat, but you’re not truly full. Here are some strategies to help you overcome overeating:
- Don’t forget to snack. Snacking is a smart weight-loss strategy, especially when you're getting started on a weight-loss plan. Eating smaller meals more frequently keeps you from getting too hungry, and it keeps you focused on your goal.
- Change is good. Boredom is your worst enemy when you’re trying to revamp your eating habits. Make sure you’re eating a variety of Atkins-friendly foods, and take some time to plan your meals for each week. Experiment with different recipes and foods. You can also visit http://www.atkins.com/RecipeLanding.aspx for some delicious, Atkins-friendly recipes.
- Stay away from trigger foods. You know which foods those are; the ones you turn to in weak moments. Whether it’s ice cream, donuts or French fries, pizza or chips, make sure you don’t keep these trigger foods in your house, and plan ahead if you know you’re heading into a situation where you may encounter them.
- Make your food count. Eating nutrient-dense foods will help you meet your nutritional needs, which will help control your appetite as well.
- Protein power. Try to have some protein with every meal, whether it comes in the form of piece of cheese, a handful of almonds, a couple slices of ham, or a chicken breast or piece of steak.
- Eat your veggies. Vegetables are a good source of fiber, which will also help fill you up. Plus they have disease-fighting antioxidants and vitamins.
- Fat is your friend. Fat is an important component of Atkins. It will also help satisfy your appetite, and adds flavor to your meals. Add some sliced avocado to your salads, slather some cream cheese on a piece of celery, and mix up a homemade vinaigrette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You do need to avoid trans fats and partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated fats, though.
- Keep a journal. Record all your meals and make notes on favorite recipes or foods. Jot down your thoughts and feelings, plus your level of hunger between, before and after meals. This should help you learn how much to eat to stay satisfied, but not stuffed, and also may provide some insight into situations where you might feel compelled to eat for reasons other than hunger, such as boredom or stress.
Weight loss should not mean deprivation, but part of the process includes breaking bad habits and learning new, healthy habits that will stick with you for a lifetime. You're taking good care of yourself, and the results will be fantastic!
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What are your strategies for staying satisfied but not stuffed after a meal? I’d love to hear! Please share your thoughts with the Atkins Community and also let me know what you’d like to hear about in the future.