Healthy Habits Reflection


As a nation, we talk about closure a lot, don’t we? We say we need closure after a break-up, an argument or after someone passes away…In our society, we want answers to our questions, and we long to feel complete. But I’ve noticed that I long for closure when it comes to food too. Isn’t that kind of strange?

Actually, I think it’s bothersome. Over the last few days, I’ve noticed that when I eat a meal it doesn’t feel complete unless I eat all of it. And even on occasions in which I finish my entire meal (for instance, sushi) I don’t feel finished until I consider what to have for dessert. I control my need for completion by serving proper portions at home, and when I’m out I do my best to ignore the urge to clean my plate. But how can I change my mentality? How can I learn to look at a plate that is still partially filled with food without feeling a need to eat it?

I’m not sure how to answer my own question, but I can tell you that I do control those urges more now than ever. I no longer order dessert after every meal though I do still order it sometimes. And while my first thought is that I should clear my plate, my second thought is usually a reminder to myself that I don’t need or want it.

I know I’ve come a long way, but I also know that I have a long way to go. I am confidently in control of my relationship with food, but I have to remain cautious. I realized over the weekend that I still struggle with “food closure” from time to time. Will it ever change? I think so…until then, I’ll just remain aware because self-awareness is just as important as closure.

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  • Reply
    October 27, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I personally have the same problem, however mine is more of an upbringing issue. I was always told, "You must clean your plate before getting down from the table". Even if you were full, it was rude to leave food behind. Now, I have come to terms that IT IS OKAY to walk away. When I start to feel full, I will push the plate away, cover it with my napkin somthing to take it out of my sight. That helps me. I hope you get "closure" soon! (For desert I usually will stick with fresh fruit or the cake flavored Yoplait Yogurts that are only 100 cals. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    This is a great post Kenz. I am the same way. I know I do this, and yet I haven't figured out a way to change my mentality. As far as dessert goes, I very seldom have dessert away from my house. And I have turned to chocolate almond milk for my at home dessert…and not every night. Even though I was working on losing weight, I want to still live my life and will have a small piece of cake if a friend is celebrating a birthday, but try to stay away from mindless sweets after a meal.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I have a huge problem with that too and feel like I don't want to waste food. But I've been able to lose 20 pounds with only eating half of whatever I choose to eat then either throw the rest of it away or save it for my next meal. This has helped me with a little control which I don't have a lot of….but I know where your coming from.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    I hear you! My biggest problem is not feeling satisfied until I've had something sweet after my meal. At both lunch and dinner, I don't feel done until I've had a little sweet treat. DANGER!!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I too have the same issue, but was brought up that way. I am actually proud now when I leave something on my plate. We could not have dessert unless we cleared our plate, and there was the "hungry kids in China" comment thrown in there.

    Hope you are having a great week my friend! Hugs!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I always take half home, ALWAYS. Plus it makes me happy to look forward to the same yummy meal the next day.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Cleaning the plate is a mentality I was brought up on and I am past 60. It came from family who lived through the depression and the gratitude that was felt to having food to eat coupled with the guilt that it was terrible not to eat it after all what if it wasn't there again. That was built on a mindset from European ancestry that lived through wars and bombings and plagues and the "what ifs" of there not being food available again.
    We live in a society where megasize has seeped into our mindset to feed off our ancestry. Fortunately we now know more about all this and the fact that we can eat to live not live to eat. There are triggers that can prompt the notion of needing to clean the plate. Recognizing them is difficult but once we do we can deal with this.
    We know we don't need to stuff ourselves to live and live healthfully and well. Thank God we don't have famine or plagues to deal with. A meal can be fulfilling with a dessert after meals and that dessert does not need to be a meal in it's own right. A taste of sweet IS dessert.
    You are a remarkable person and I am sure you will understand my message. You've done more than a many women I have come to know. Having you in my life now has given me further insight into the power we have within and the power from whence it comes which is God.
    Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Reply
    Shane G.
    October 28, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I kinda have that problem but now I combat it by only putting as much on my plate as I want to eat. If I am out and have to much, I ask for the to go box first, take out what I don't need to eat, then eat what is left on the plate. It works, even though you get weird looks.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 2:32 am

    shane g. has a great approach, weird looks notwithstanding.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 3:18 am

    I usually do a take home container. It can be helpful to decide [before eating] how much a serving should be and pkg the rest. (I think you do this sometimes.)

    I guess those of us who have struggled with eating more than we need can benefit from making an effort to waste some food. That has been the case for me. I need to practice leaving stuff on the plate sometimes. Learning to throw away some food has actually been part of my journey to health. I am learning that it is better to waste some food than to 'waist' the food. haha We recently bought some homemade take out fundraising meals that came with a carton of orange drink. My dh is the only one who likes this beverage, and he did drink his own. I stared at the remaining boxes, thinking that they won't do him any good, and he should not have it either, so I dumped them down the drain. Seems weird and wasteful, but that is actually where they did the most good!

    Yep, this whole thing has been a real mental process for me too.

    Jillian Michaels said she will pour salt or something over her remaining dessert so she isn't tempted to eat more than a bite or 2. And of course share and split meals when possible.

    "It only takes a split second to make a decision. [to buy to eat, to throw away, to dump water on something…] Each decision is either in the direction of disease and obesity, or health & wellness". [From Lyn's blog.]

    You have said something on your blog that sounded like "I get to eat again tomorrow". And I copied this kinda similar quote – "You get to eat every day of your life, so you don't have to eat it all at once".

    Have a splendid weekend.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 4:19 am

    I agree with Cindy. Take half of it home and you won't feel like you are wasting it. You will also enjoy the portion that you are having now and the portion that you will have later on.

  • Reply
    Ex Yo-Yo Dieter Debbie
    October 28, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Like you, I want to clean my plate every time. And often, I like to have a little treat after my meal. So I fool myself with little tricks.
    -I use a smaller plate
    -Having a smaller plate makes me automatically put a smaller portion on it.
    -If you're eating out, manage the portion before you start eating (like Shane suggested). It's much easier to not eat the other half (that's in a box!) than to try to leave it on your plate. Chances are, you won't open up the box at the table to eat it all, but you would eat it all if it were on your plate!
    -After dinner, I'll have some tea sweetened with Truvia. Or a few small pieces of dried fruit (apple or dates). It is very sweet, and has fiber!

    Being on this road to becoming a more mindful eater, I've found that it's okay to clean your plate…what and how much is on the plate matters much more. As long as you're aware of what you're doing, I think it's okay to finish everything. It helps not to feel deprived…which is a big thing when you're trying to change your habits and lose weight.

    And the sweet thing? Also fine. I am a sugar addict…I have eaten only sweets for days, weeks, months at a time (and miraculously, somehow, not diabetic??). If you can a have a little taste of something sweet after your meal without setting up cravings, then I say go for it! If sugar does crazy things with your head…it does for me…then choose something else.

    I've often read that if you can make your weight loss program mimic real life as much as you can (ie..not a "diet" to go off of one day), the better your chances of keeping it all off forever.

    Do what feels right for you, as opposed to what you think you should do. Everyone is not the same in this world.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Shane, I was just thinking about that too! I'd love to say that I do that when I go out. I used to, a couple of years ago, but I got out of the habit. I believe I will start doing it again. It's a practically-painless change to make but one that will really make a difference in how much of those ginormous restaurant portions I actually consume at one sitting. As for the "clean plate club", I'll bet most of us were encouraged in that way, and my parents were always referring to those starving people in India. But I only remember wanting to send them my brussels sprouts and my lima beans! I never had to be reminded to clean my plate when it came to foods I actually LIKED!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I whole heartedly believe that food mentality starts from childhood. I am a card carrying member of the clean your plate club. It's the way it was. We weren't allowed to leave the table until our plates were completely clear.

    Then growing up and being able to choose from so many wonderful choices at restaurants, etc well, there was no way I was going to pass up eating all of my food – especially when I was paying for it.

    I think it's a continuous and life long process trying to re-program our minds to be comfortable wtih food choices.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    How about asking for a smaller portion at the restaurant (on a salad plate). That way you get to finish the whole thing without eating way too much. As for the desert thing, I recently discovered chocolate flavored calcium chews. They taste really good w/only 20 calories each and because they're a mineral I don't get tempted to eat more than one at a time. I eat one with my coffee every morning!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Sometimes I think self-awareness is more important than closure, since closure is not always possible. I struggle with the same problem, especially since it was ingrained in me as a child that a "clean plate is a happy plate." When ordering out, I constantly have to remind myself to eat normal portions and that I can always make a second meal out of leftovers.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    I think desserts are a habit, and it's hard to kick. I applaud you for just being aware of it. Congratulations on all of your progress! By the way – have you discovered a new gadget called Body Media? It's an armband you wear that, with 95% accuracy, tracks the calories you burn. It's SO COOL. You download the data daily, log your calories IN on the bodyMedia website, and it gives you your daily calorie deficit (or surplus). Check it out!

  • Reply
    Girly Girl: Losing the Gut
    October 29, 2010 at 12:29 am

    It is so hard to break habits. I went to my niece's birthday party yesterday and wanted cake so bad, but I resisted and I am glad that I did. I love this post and how honest you are. I think it is important to be realistic and now that you will eat dessert sometimes, which is what you do. Great job!

    I also wanted to tell you that I gave you the Versatile blogger award. So check out my blog and check it out and see what you can do to pass on the award if you wish!

  • Reply
    Beth @ Kitchen Minions
    October 29, 2010 at 3:19 am

    My way of avoiding finishing my plate at restaurants is sitting across from a very hungry diner. Dan often begs me for my food. When I eat with friends, I try to order small or split a plate with a friend. I would never take food away from a dining companion so I won't finish my plate!

  • Reply
    The Monkey and Me
    October 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I am the same way! Wouldn't that be a good challenge? The Leave the Last Bite Challenge. LTLB

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