|SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center|
How Can I Avoid Overeating When I'm Hungry?
I don't skip breakfast or snacks and I eat a normal-sized lunch and dinner, but whenever I get home from school or late at night, I'm always starving and tend to overeat. What can I eat or do to feel full and prevent myself from overeating?
Start by looking at the kind of food you are eating at meals and snacks. Do you eat mostly white bread, sugary cereal, candy, chips, or junk food? They don't offer much staying power. Plus, their lack of fiber makes them less filling than healthier choices. Replace these foods with whole-grain breads or cereal, vegetables, and fruits.
Another good tip for feeling satisfied is to make sure your meals are well-balanced. In other words, include at least three of the five food groups on your plate (choose from protein, grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy).
If you'll be waiting a long time between lunch and dinner, add a healthy snack when you get home from school. Limit yourself to a certain amount, like a handful of trail mix. Schedule another light snack later in the evening if you have plans to be up late at night.
Slowing down as you eat is another way to avoid overeating. Really focus on the food in your mouth — its taste, texture, and how much you are enjoying it. Pause between bites. Paying attention to signs that you are satisfied can help you avoid eating too much.
Finally, are you eating for emotional reasons, like boredom or frustration? If so, schedule something distracting to do after school or at night. Exercise, get together with a friend, or head outside instead of watching TV, sitting at the computer, or just hanging around waiting for dinner.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.