3 Simple Tips to Train Yourself to Stop Eating at 80 Percent Full

Your relationship with and mindset around food are the two biggest components of healthy weight loss or gain. To prevent yourself from eating too many calories, one trick we like to use is to stop eating at 80% full. While the type of calorie you take in is vitally important, when it comes right down to it, weight loss is a simple math equation – calories in vs. calories out. Here’s how to limit the amount of calories you take in.

Tip # 1: Mindful Eating

Mindful eating starts by ditching the technology during dinner, so you can start paying attention to what you’re feeling, thinking, smelling, and tasting.

In short, eating mindfully allows you to taste your food more, enjoy it more, and become more conscious of what your body is telling you it needs.

A lifetime of mindless eating: Many times, the reason we eat what’s on our plate is because we hear our mother’s voice telling us to “finish your plate.” In other words, this has become a habit. But when you slow down and are more present and mindful during a meal, you’ll start to be able to decide for yourself when you feel satisfied and when it’s time to stop.

Start with this exercise:

Complete this sentence:

I feel full when…

For example:

  • I feel full when I put my hands on my stomach and groan.
  • I feel full when I feel nauseous and need to undo my belt buckle.
  • I feel full when I have a hard time taking a deep breath.
  • I feel full when I start to sweat.

On the flip side, complete this sentence:

I no longer feel hungry when…

For example:

  • I no longer feel hungry when I feel relaxed and happy.
  • I no longer feel hungry when the panic of having been so hungry subsides.
  • I no longer feel hungry when I feel more able to focus on the conversation around me.
  • I no longer feel hungry when food stops tasting as delicious as the first few bites.

Use this as a starting point, and pay attention to how you feel as you’re eating your next meal.

Tip #2: Chew Your Food Well

While there are various benefits to chewing your food more—it allows for more efficient nutrient absorption, it’s better for your teeth, and it gives your food more exposure to your salivary enzymes, which helps with digestion, for example—another big one is that it encourages you to slow down so you can recognize your fullness cues before it’s too late.

Before it’s too late?

Often, we don’t chew our food enough, which results in speed eating, and then we keep eating because we don’t realize we’re at 80 percent full until we accidentally overshoot and we get to 110 percent full. And then all of a sudden, our stomach hurts because we overindulged. Whoops! (We’ve all done it, including me.)

If you’re new to the idea of chewing more, one good exercise (which you can abandon once it becomes more of a habit) is to actually count how many times you chew before you swallow. Aim to chew 15 to 20 times per bite (unless you’re eating soup).

Pro tip:

Another great way to train yourself to slow down and chew is to put your knife and fork down between bites. This will help reduce the temptation to take another bite before you have chewed and swallowed your last one.

Tip #3: Eat and Wait

Sometimes it takes a bit for our minds to catch up to our bodies.

Our minds were ravenous 10 minutes ago, so we eat quickly and don’t realize we’re full until it’s too late (as I already alluded to).

Try this:

Replace your normal dinner plates with smaller ones. Fill your plate as usual, but now you’ll be filling an 8-inch, as opposed to a 10 or 12 inch plate, so you’ll likely only fill it 80 percent of what you used to.

This is also a piece of advice I give you people at holiday parties, where delicious, high calorie food is just an arms-length away. Then: Eat your food, wait 10 to 15 minutes, see how your body feels. If you legitimately are still hungry, have a little more. If after 15 minutes you realize you are no longer hungry, walk away.

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