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overeating

If you've actively avoided social occasions while on a health kick, you're most definitely not alone.

While we may be able to stay on the straight and narrow for the vast majority of the week, the minute we begin socialising all bets are off.

Whether it comes down to manners or sheer lack of willpower, many of us find it difficult to decline a plate of goodies when pressed upon us by the friend or co-worker hosting us.

But according to new research, the easiest way to curb how much you consume at a party or gathering is by serving yourself, and ensuring you're the only one looking after your food intake.

The findings, which were published in the Journal of Marketing Research, concluded that people ate less unhealthy food when they tasked themselves with filling their own plates.

"We find that when participants are given the choice of whether or not to consume snacks that they perceive as relatively unhealthy, they have a greater inclination to consume these snacks when less (versus more) physical involvement is required to help themselves to the food." study authors Linda Hagen, Aradhna Krishna, and Brent McFerran said.

In other words, if you tell your host that you're good for now and will help yourself in a bit, you'll be less likely to consistently tuck in because, hey, who wants to keep getting up and down from the buffet?

When you accept a plate of unhealthy (but obviously delicious food) you tend to relinquish responsibility, but you don't have to.

“We suggest that this behaviour occurs because being less physically involved in serving one's food allows participants to reject responsibility for unhealthy eating and thus to feel better about themselves following indulgent consumption," the authors added.

Simply put, if you insist that it's your responsibility to keep yourself fed and watered at the next party, you're much less likely to overindulge.

And while that seems to make sense, all we can think about is getting free reign over a buffet…

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Let's face it, when given a plate piled high with delicious food, we're going to make pigs of ourselves. But if you're finding that you feel uncomfortable full after every meal, not just the indulgent ones, you may need to reassess your portion control.

Knowing what the right amount of food is for your weight, height and activity level is key if you want to maintain a healthy weight and body.

Here are a few signs that you might be overeating at mealtimes…

1. You feel bloated straight away
If your stomach feels swollen and bloated immediately after eating, it's a sure sign that your body is struggling with the amount of food you've just eaten. This is fine every once in a while, but it shouldn't be happening after every meal.

2. You're satisifed… but you keep eating
If you find yourself picking at leftovers even after you've put your fork down and pushed your plate away, you're probably on the way to overeating without realising. Experts recommend that we stop eating when we feel around 80% full, to ensure we stay satisfied but not stuffed.

3. You stop enjoying the food
The first few mouthfuls of a meal are generally the ones we enjoy the most – after that, it can become automatic. Try to focus on each bite you take, and when you stop fully enjoying each one, put your fork down.

4. You need a physical break during the meal
If you're eating so fast that you need to stop for a breather halfway through, it's a sign that your body's well on the way to being full. Next time you take a break, spend a moment assessing whether you really need or want to eat any more. You may find that's the perfect moment to push your plate away, rather than leaving it in front of you and mindlessly eating until it's wiped clean.

5. You're going back for seconds
Sometimes seconds (and thirds) are just too much to resist, but again it shouldn't happen at every meal. If you really don't feel satisfied, by all means eat another helping, but try to restrict yourself to vegetables or healthy sides this time around.

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