Do you have a tendency to overeat?

Maybe hours after eating you are still feeling uncomfortably full, and promising yourself, “next time, I won’t go for that third helping. Ughhhhhhh!”

You’re not alone. It’s not uncommon to literally stuff ourselves silly, especially at family functions like weddings, birthdays and during the holidays.

That includes all holidays; Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Kwanzaa, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day…

There are simple ways to fully enjoy food and stop yourself from overeating, and it starts by using your senses. Literally!

The face is loaded with sense organs that, when used correctly, can help us exercise moderation and satisfy us on a deeper level.

Your eyes are the first sense organ to arrive at the scene. They scan the table and notice all the delectable delights on display.

Oh my! A smorgasbord: artisan cheese, Quiche, pastries, cornbread, rosemary roasted vegetables, and Aunt Betty’s famous lasagna. Take it all in…with your eyes.

The eyes are directly connected to the brain. When you visually take in food, you are readying your body for the process of eating.

BUT, the eyes can also get us into a heap of trouble.

When I was younger and didn’t have the food sense I have today, I remember my mom looking at a plate of food that I had piled ten feet high and saying, “Ann, your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

Later, she would find me splayed out on the couch with my pants unbuttoned, hand gingerly rubbing my belly, suffering from a semiconscious food overdose.

A good rule of thumb is to take less than you think you want. You can always return for seconds.

Once your plate is filled, stop and smell the food. The aroma activates our salivary glands and gets the digestive system prepped and ready for action.

Smelling food also does something very interesting. It gets you “present” to act of eating and connects to the memory center of your brain. Many of us are not present with our meals; we could be miles away (in our mind) from the plate that is sitting directly in front of us. But, when you smell food it brings you back to the plate and to the emotion connected with the memory of that particular food.

One little whiff can remind you that Aunt Betty has been making that lasagna since you were a little kid, and she always cooks with love and the intention of sharing a meal with her family.

After you’ve looked at the food, inhaled all the wonderful scents, and have been reminded that you are surrounded by people that love and care for you… NOW you can put the food into your mouth.

BUT, you have to make sure you taste it. If you simply bite and swallow, you’ll always go back for seconds and thirds, because you didn’t taste it the first time.

Taste receptors are located in our mouth (and nose), not in our stomach. To experience the full flavor of food, it must be tasted first.

Let the food linger on your tongue for a moment.

And, then while the food is still in your mouth, you have to CHEW!

Chewing food mixes it with enzymes in our saliva that starts the process of digestion where it’s supposed to begin – in the mouth.

Our salivary glands release enzymes that help us break down food and make it more absorbable. If we don’t chew our food, we risk indigestion, acid reflux and whole slew of digestive troubles.

One of the best ways to help you slow down and chew food is to focus on using another sense organ while while you eat: your ears.

You’re not going to stick the food into your ears, silly! You’re going to use them to listen to the other folks dining with you at the table. As they are talking, you can chew, chew, chew.

By “listening” you have just given your friend or relative a great gift: your undivided attention.

Using your senses is guaranteed to give you (and the people dining with you) the best eating experience ever!

If you can tap into your senses, you can surely make it through any meal, with your waistline intact, no indigestion, and a better appreciation for the people dining with you.

Try it at your next meal and let me know how it goes.