10/21/2016 02:39 EDT | Updated 10/21/2016 02:42 EDT

Knowing Why You Overeat Is The Key To Making Healthier Choices

Zigy Kaluzny via Getty Images
Texas, USA.

Do you know your body's enemies?

If weight gain is one of them, then it's useful to know exactly how it can get the better of you.

Here's how: Our meal portions are too typically loaded with insulin-spiking processed carbohydrates. And we're conditioned to eat far too many of them.

But why exactly do we indulge too much?

Simply stated, we live in a food-obsessed culture. For instance, in any built-up urban area, there's usually a variety of restaurants and fast food outlets everywhere you look.

In such a competitive marketplace, they're all vying for our attention by luring us with bigger and bigger portions of food. Yet much of it is loaded with salt, fat and sugar which is meant to over-stimulate our appetites.

We need to pay closer attention to what's on our plate in terms of both quality and quantity.

So it's not too surprising to learn that some entree dishes can actually contain well over 2,000 calories -- especially in popular chain restaurants.

Invariably it's all very tempting food, too. And it sells better when a much greater emphasis is placed on taste and presentation than on health and nutrition.

Even at home, too many of us simply prepare packaged supermarket meals that emulate the same formula for overeating. The end result is that all the surplus calories we consume are converted into fat. And it's fat that usually becomes flab around our waists.

Wise up: eat healthily and in moderation

To remedy this unhealthy imbalance, we need to pay closer attention to what's on our plate in terms of both quality and quantity.

Starting with quality, I'm referring to a meal that's nutritionally balanced, i.e. one that is high in protein and complex carbohydrates (think vegetables) but is relatively low in both fats and starchy carbohydrates (think potatoes, bread, white rice, pasta, fries etc.).

As to quantity, we should eat only as much as is necessary to meet our energy and nutritional needs. And if you exercise regularly, consider doing the following with each plate of food: Eat portions of at least five to 10 ounces of lean animal protein or up to half a plate of vegetarian protein (including dairy products).

Also, try to get used to starchy carbohydrate portion sizes that are about 25 per cent less than you're probably used to. As for vegetables, consume as much as you want at each sitting.

All told, you can still enjoy delicious restaurant food.

The exception to this rule is a post-workout meal. That's when larger portions of each food group will ensure that your nutrient-depleted muscles are adequately nourished.

As an aside, if you're concerned that you may have a tendency to over-eat, especially gluten-based carbohydrates, then here's some useful advice: Because it takes around 20 minutes for our brains to register that we've had enough to eat, try not to wolf down your food in a hurry.

Instead, eat mindfully by thoroughly chewing and savoring every mouthful, which will improve your absorption of nutrients and help prevent indigestion. This should also help make dining a leisurely and pleasant experience.

Also, skip the bread rolls before your dinner, especially if they're made of insulin-spiking white bread.

Additionally, try not to guzzle down lots of soft drinks with your meal. Besides all the unnecessary empty calories, any more than about eight ounces of fluids with your meal can dilute your stomach acid content. Which can make it harder for your body to assimilate and digest all of the nutrients that you're consuming.

All told, you can still enjoy delicious restaurant food. Just choose your entrees wisely and try not to over-indulge, especially starchy carbohydrates. Focus the most on eating all the protein and complex carbohydrates on your plate.

This is a recipe for healthy dining and for getting lean and staying that way. It may take a while to become a habit. But when it does, you may be surprised by how easy it is to get your fill without finishing off everything on your plate.

Good luck and bon appétit!

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