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Overeating? How’s Your Behavioral Health?

Sometimes we overeat simply because we are starving.

But many times, we overeat because we are stressed, depressed, anxious or bored.  These negative thoughts and habits trigger overeating, which can affect your behavioral and mental health. In turn, eating too much over and over again can make you gain weight and cause other physical problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.

What if you could prevent overeating — and at the same time, enjoy your food more?

Try out these tips at your next meal and see what happens.

  • Eat because you’re hungry. Ask yourself: are you actually hungry? Or are you perhaps tired, bored, sad, or stressed? If it’s not true hunger, try doing something else to feel better, like taking a walk or a nap.
  • Sit down for meals. Avoid eating on the go or while doing other things. When you’re multitasking, it’s hard to appreciate your food or keep track of how much you’re eating.
  • Avoid screens. That includes your phone, computer, and TV. Instead, focus on relishing your meal as well as the people you’re with. This is your chance to catch up, nourish yourself, and be fully present.
  • Taste your food. Here’s a shocker: food is more satisfying when you take the time to savor it. Instead of wolfing something down, pause to consider the flavors, textures, and ingredients.
  • Chew more. Do you know how many times you chew per bite? Try counting—and then increasing it. Because the more time you spend chewing (versus inhaling), the more time your brain has to catch up to your stomach.
  • Set your fork down. Sit back and take a moment between bites. Not only does this help you to be present, but the extra time lets you pay attention to whether you’re still hungry. Listen to your body’s signals at each break.
  • Adopt the 80/20 way. This trick involves eating until you feel about 80% full and then waiting 20 minutes to decide if you want more. That’s how long our brains need to process fullness, so after this time, you may feel content. Remember the first tip. Are you really hungry? If so, eat until don’t feel hungry.

Need help? Don’t be afraid to get the help and guidance you may need from a professional counselor. You can call the behavioral health number on the back of your member ID card or call UAMS Health AR ConnectNow at 800-482-9921, 24/7 to schedule a time to connect with local mental health professionals in Arkansas.

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