Control Compulsive Eating

What is it about food? Serve us a plate with normal-sized portions and no other food on the table, and we’ll eat it and likely be quite satisfied. But put us before an all-you-can-eat buffet, and suddenly our hunger sensor goes on the blink and we eat until we have to loosen our belts and unbutton our pants.

Whether you need to lose weight or you’re just tired of leaving the table feeling like you swallowed a beach ball, the following tips will help you curb your appetite and eat just enough — and no more.

1. Purge your home of low-nutrition snack food. That means ice cream, candy, potato chips, packaged cookies, doughnuts, cake, and any other salty or sugary snacks that you munch on between meals. Learn to live without this stuff. Period. These are the foods that we eat compulsively and that make us overweight. From now on, only eat these foods when offered them at a social event, or when you and the family deserve a special treat. Then go to the ice-cream parlor and get a single scoop of your favorite.

2. In its place, stock your home with mounds of fresh fruit, dried fruit, carrots, celery, tomatoes, granola bars, and high-fiber breakfast cereal. Here’s your new snack food.

3. Never, ever buy a snack at gas stations, drugstores, or discount chains. Yes, they want to tempt you with doughnuts, potato chips, candy bars, or hot dogs — that’s why they put the stuff all around the cash register. It makes them a lot of money. It makes you poorer, heavier, and less healthy.

4. Never, ever stop at a food store just to buy a snack. No drive-through windows for the 99-cent special at Burger King. No stopping at the doughnut shop for a quick glazed. No quick pizza slice at Mario’s. This type of compulsive, unhealthy eating is causing our nation’s weight problems.

5. Make this simple salad for a big, healthy splurge. Feel desperate for a big bowl of crunchy food? Throw into a bowl half a head of iceberg lettuce, ripped up; a fistful of bite-size carrots; half a tomato, sliced up; and half a cucumber, sliced. Drizzle on olive oil, shake on a little balsamic vinegar, sprinkle on some oregano, salt, and pepper, and mix. This is a huge bowl of flavorful food at relatively few calories.

6. Another splurge food: watermelon. It’s more than 90 percent water, and the other 10 percent has plenty of healthy nutrients and reasonable calorie levels. If you want to indulge in a hearty helping of food, dig deeply into a hearty portion of watermelon.

7. Yet another splurge food: vegetable soup. Need comfort food? Heat up a large bowl of soup made with lots of vegetables and beans. It’s flavorful, hearty, and generally high in nutrition and low in fat.

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