Portion Control: Argh!

I’ve been trying a new strategy: portion control.

Well, not that it’s a new strategy in the cosmic sense, but it is new to me!

I’ve been listening to this weight loss/health gaining program and the instructor talks about learning to stop eating when you’re 80% full.

I purposefully let that awkward sentence structure slide – learning to stop eating when you’re 80% full – because, trust me, if you’re not used to doing it, you’re going to have to learn it. And it’s harder than it looks.

I had no idea that I was a member of the “clean plate club” until I tried not to be. What I found, when I tried to not finish my meal is that it’s a real struggle for me to leave a bite of food on my plate, let alone 20% of whatever I took…unlike my normal weight partner, Michael J, who always leaves a bite or two on his plate! You know, it’s a good thing he’s adorable, because, to tell you the truth, it drives me crazy. But at least not crazy enough, thank goodness, that I feel the need to clean his plate (with my fork!) as I’m putting dishes away! Apparently eating the scraps off of husband’s and children’s plates is a huge weight gain trap for women. So, if you’re doing it: stop it! Just stop.

I do, I admit, tend to eat the last bite out of a container if there’s only one – or two – bites left. Not Michael J, who will all too happily put a two bite “black bean snack” back in the fridge without even batting an eye. Something tells me that I could learn a lot about eating from watching him more closely – not necessarily about what to eat, but how to eat. Again, it’s a good thing he’s cute.

So, back to this 80% rule. Why 80%?

Essentially, it’s because it takes the stomach about 15 or 20 minutes to realize you’re full. So, when you feel 80% full (I still haven’t fully grocked what that means, exactly) you’re actually already full, although your gut hasn’t quite figured that out yet. If you eat until you’re full, technically you’re already over full (around the magnitude of about 120%) When you eat more calories than you need – that is, you eat to over fullness – your body releases insulin, which signals fat storage, etc, etc. I’m sure you get the picture.

Because I have such strong – apparently – cultural conditioning not to waste food (even two bites), my new strategy is to take about 80% of what I would normally take. And I try to eat slow…well, slower…so that my stomache is more likely to get the message before I to leave the table.

It’s really hard. Harder than it should be. But even though it’s hard – I actually feel better eating this way. I don’t miss the “stuffed” feeling, even though it’s been a good companion to me for the last 39 years.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to commit to three changes this holiday season.

This is the first: I am going to walk away from every meal, snack, etc. while I still feel a little bit hungry. If I am still a little bit hungry 15 or 20 minutes later, I may have a little more. Or I might just have a cup of tea and let the feeling pass.

I’ll keep you posted.

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