How to Combat and Conquer Gluttony (in 4 Steps)

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I am a glutton.

For as long as I can remember, I have felt most rewarded by eating in volume. Given the choice (and putting dietary concerns to one side), I’d choose a big dish of adequate quality over a small yet sublime meal. To an extent, I don’t feel truly satisfied by a meal unless I’m a step beyond comfortably full.

I have managed to succeed in being Healthy Enough despite my predilections, however. I’d largely put this down to my adoption of intermittent fasting (which enables me to eat a big dinner), and it says a lot about how there are many different approaches to losing weight.

That said, avoiding gluttonous behaviour is the ideal; I don’t think anyone’s going to argue that gluttony is a good thing. With that in mind, I’ve recently been putting a lot of thought into how to curb my own gluttonous behaviour – more specifically, how to control the temptation to eat huge portions. I came up with an effective four step approach. If you find yourself succumbing to gluttony at times, follow the steps below, and you may find your appetite far more controllable.

Step 1: Adopt My ‘Sensory Overload’ Strategy

My ‘sensory overload’ strategy is primarily intended to curb hunger pangs, but it’s equally effective in tempering gluttonous behaviour.

You can check out the strategy in full via the link above, but in a nutshell, the idea is to get yourself ‘pre-full’, so that when it comes to the main event, you simply don’t have as great a capacity for gluttony. It’s simple, but effective.

If you do nothing else at this stage (pre-gluttonous behaviour), pour yourself a tall glass of water and drink it all before you start eating. That forms the foundation of the ‘sensory overload’ strategy, and will put you in good stead (it may not seem like drinking water would make much difference to your capacity for gluttony, but you might be surprised). If you can get into a habit of doing this before every snack and meal, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour.

Step 2: Reduce Your Portions and Eat More Slowly

It should go without saying that if the food isn’t on your plate, you can’t eat it. That’s why I’d advise you follow my portion reduction method in order to curb your gluttonous habits.

To summarise, the portion reduction method requires that you put only ¾ of the food you have available on your plate. Eat your meal slowly, then wait 15 minutes. If you’re still hungry afterwards, then eat the rest. You may however be surprised to discover that you’re not, as you will have (a) given your body time to send your brain the appropriate ‘full’ signals, and (b) extricated yourself from your immediate cravings for gluttony.

Step 3: Leave Leftovers for Later

My original post on the portion reduction method dictates that you throw away any food you don’t eat. The thinking behind this is simple: you’re not going to eat food out of the bin (at least, I hope you won’t).

However, this may be a bridge too far for you, and I appreciate that. If the idea of throwing food away is too much to bear, and you’re tempted to eat it out of a desire to avoid food waste (or perhaps for more gluttonous reasons), I suggest you play a little mind game with yourself.

I call it the “I’ll leave it for later” rule. Simply put, tell yourself that you’ll leave the food for later. If you leave the food for later you’re more likely to enjoy it, as you’ll be less hungry, which makes it an easy sell.

When “later” comes, you can use the above-mentioned sensory overload strategy to curb your craving. And if that doesn’t work, at least you’ll be eating the food later, which may dampen your appetite for future snacks and meals.

Step 4: Leave Just One Bite

If you’ve followed the steps above then you will hopefully have made strides – big or small – in reducing your gluttonous behaviour. At this stage, if you feel that gluttony has still got the better of you, there is a last roll of the dice available.

Anyone can leave just one bite. There are a couple of ways in which you can do so:

  1. Offer a bite to someone else. My personal favourite. You won’t feel like the food is wasted, the food isn’t left there for you to stare at, and you get brownie points for being generous.
  2. Just throw a bite away. This is more of a challenge, but eminently doable – especially if you do it earlier on during the meal. Psychologically speaking, it’s far easier to throw away one of your first bites than the last. Literally take a forkful and throw it in the bin. That’s one forkful of unnecessarily gluttonous calories you won’t be ingesting. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Leaving just one bite may seem like an inconsequential thing, and alone it may be. However, in leaving that bite, you are striking a small blow against your inner glutton. Any step in the right direction should be celebrated. Furthermore, if you’re comfortable throwing away one bite, who’s to say you can’t throw away more, or actually just take some food off your plate for leftovers? Often, a simple change of perspective will make you willing to do something you wouldn’t have previously countenanced.


Gluttony can only be considered a good thing in terms of satisfying a desire, but given that the desire in itself is unhealthy, there’s not a lot to be said for gluttonous behaviour.

The benefits of moderation in eating are manifold: you’ll avoid that familiar yet unpleasant sensation of being overly full, you’ll suffer none of the unpleasant aftereffects (such as bloating and wind), and you’ll feel good about yourself for exercising restraint.

I’ve given you a lot of tools above to combat gluttony. If you’re on a roll you might tackle all four steps, but even if you only manage one, you’ll be making meaningful strides in combatting your gluttonous ways. Most importantly, do what you can, and celebrate every win – no matter how seemingly minor.