We often find that the root of bad habits lies all the way back in childhood. That’s certainly the case with the practice of “cleaning your plate”. Your parents probably instructed you to clean your plate quite often, and they weren’t talking about doing the dishes!
Unfortunately, many of us became so accustomed to eating everything on our plates, that we continue to do this without even thinking about it. And in adulthood, that can lead to over-eating, consuming larger portions than necessary. You might be eating when you’re no longer hungry, and not even realizing it. This is one common reason that a weight loss program can feel challenging.
Undoing a lifelong habit takes some time, but it can be done. The following seven methods can help you undo this ingrained mentality, and replace it with healthier practices.
- Use smaller plates. You’re basically creating an optical illusion, and tricking yourself. You’ll eat a full plate of food… But it’s a smaller plate.
- Portion out your plate correctly. About half of your plate should be non-starchy veggies. Then, add a serving of protein that is about the size of a deck of playing cards. A serving of whole grains or fruit should be about the size of a tennis ball. You’ll end up feeling full, but on the right balance of nutrients.
- Stop before you’re full. Stop eating when you feel about 80 percent full, and give your stomach time to signal satiety.
- Reduce distractions. Often we don’t realize how much we’re eating, because we’re looking at a phone or television screen. Pay attention to your meal, and slow down.
- Address your food-waste guilt. Our parents instilled a bit of guilt into us, regarding food waste, to motivate us to eat our veggies. Just go ahead and plan to cook extra and have leftovers. When it’s part of the plan, you’ll do away with the fear of waste. Plus, you’ll have a healthy meal packed up for the following day’s lunch.
- Box it up. In restaurants, ask your server to bring a to-go box at the beginning of the meal. Box up half of your entree for later (they’re unnaturally huge in restaurants anyway).
- Schedule snacks. You’re more likely to overeat when you’re ravenous. Plan small snacks in between mealtimes, such as a piece of fruit or some fresh veggies paired with protein.
For more help with your weight loss program, call us to schedule an appointment. We can help you determine your caloric needs, decide upon portion sizes that are appropriate for your eating plan, and help you address any underlying habits that can complicate your lifestyle change.