Overeating at Meals Causing Weight Gain? Try This Science-Backed and Dietitian-Approved Trick

Notice the scale creeping up? It could be from eating too much at mealtimes. Although losing weight isn't always as simple as going low-calorie, there's no denying that taking in more energy than you expend will lead to weight gain. One of the biggest reasons people tend to eat too much at meals is that they let themselves get too hungry, then eat to the point past satisfaction.

Yes, listening to your hunger cues and going by the hunger scale are key ways to make sure you stay satiated and don't overeat. But if you end up at a restaurant feeling absolutely ravished, don't immediately go for the bread basket or chips and salsa. Instead, dietitians and research point to one appetizer you should definitely order: a broth-based soup.

"The benefit of having soup at the start of your meal is that it can help fill up volume in your stomach, leaving less room for more calorie-dense food items," registered dietitian Kelly Krikhely, MS, told POPSUGAR, adding that broth-based soups are recommended since creamy soups tend to be filled with calories and can actually impede your efforts.

But it's not just a dietitian-recommended hack; there's science to prove this premeal order. A study out of Penn State found that when a group of participants ate a first course of soup before their entrée, they ate 20 percent fewer calories (with the soup and entrée) compared to when they didn't eat the soup beforehand.

In addition to filling the volume in your stomach, broth-based soups are hydrating, which can satiate your thirst cue, explained Haley Hughes, MS, RD, CDE, who added that certain broth-based soups are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. But be mindful of the kind of broth-based soup you're ordering; recipes featuring large amounts of rice, noodles, or potatoes can be calorie bombs, Kelly warned.

"The trick is to make sure you're picking a broth-based soup that is chock-full of vegetables that will not only fill you up but keep you satisfied for longer," Kelly said, adding that eating a fiber-filled salad with tons of veggies and a light dressing beforehand serves the same purpose.

And while this trick is handy at restaurants, you can also implement it at home. If you don't have time to whip up a broth-based soup at home, you can even sip on bone broth before a meal to help increase satiety. (To make your own bone broth, check out our recipe.) After all, some restaurant soups can be filled with sodium, which will make you bloated and make you feel worse the next day. But if you're really starving when you get to a restaurant, swap out the bread and butter with a veggie-packed soup starter. Bonus points if you look up the nutrition info beforehand to see how much sodium it contains.