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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?

- Iyesha

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 trick for feeling satisfied is to include protein in each meal or snack (like low-fat yogurt with berries or celery with a tablespoon of peanut butter). At meals, choose lean meats like chicken or vegetarian protein like tofu. Another good tip for feeling satisfied is to make sure your meals are well balanced — in other words, with a serving of protein, a serving of starch, and two servings of colorful vegetables.

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.

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