Holiday feasts are just amazing.

It’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance…

It is WAY too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.

It doesn’t always stop there.

Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.

Here are 3 tips to avoid overeating at meals. (Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the need for willpower!)

Tip #1: Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food. But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast. Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast, but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism. The only problem with this is that if you have too much water right before a meal, it will lessen the potency of the acid in your stomach making it more difficult for you to digest your meal. So rather than chugging 2 glasses of water before each meal, I suggest sipping on water all day long and especially in between meals aiming for a total of half your body weight in ounces. This will keep you well hydrated and stave off some of those between meal cravings and hunger pangs.

This super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion. Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment, being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savoring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less. When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. Also, chewing more thoroughly will release more saliva and break your food down more prior to reaching your intestines. This makes it easier on your body to digest the food you’ve eaten helping to reduce chances of gas, bloating and belching.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don’t start there. (Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re not only full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals, but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water. Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They’re “satiating”. These secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary: Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

If you’re not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:

Slices of lemon & ginger
Slices of strawberries & orange
Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
Chopped pineapple & mango
Blueberries & raspberries
Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

Check out more Infused Water recipes!

Jamie Dant is a Disease Prevention and Fat Loss Specialist. She is a wizard at making good nutrition easy to understand and simple to fit into your lifestyle. She has worked with people fighting disease and people just trying to make the right choices. Her success comes from her passion for life and her ability to combine good habits with living the life you want.

Jamie is a Board Certified and Licensed Nutritionist in Maryland, has a Master’s degree in Integrative Health and Nutrition, and over 12 years in the health and fitness industry.