Clean-The-Plate Syndrome and Eating To 80% Full
Most of us were taught from infancy to clean our plates. And many do so all their lives, regardless of how full they are or how much the meal cost. After all, how can you waste food when there are all those starving people in the world?
To cope with this conditioning, you have to accept that the food on your plate will be wasted whether you eat it or not. And it will do much less harm if discarded than if it’s – “waisted” on you.
And the conditioning goes beyond simply cleaning your plate. You may need to get in better touch with your internal ability to distinguish between hunger and comfort.
Too many people eat for emotional reasons – they’re lonely, bored, anxious, worried, angry, depressed, etc. And if you aren’t eating only because you’re truly hungry, then you’re unlikely to stop when you’re truly full.
Maybe your body is conditioned to be satisfied only when your plate is clean.
Maybe you wait so long to eat that your ravenous hunger drives you to eat so much so fast that you bypass your internal “full” feeling before you realize it.
In fact, if you eat until you’re “full,” you’ve very probably overeaten. To get back in touch, rate your hunger / fullness level from 1-10 (where 1 = uncomfortably hungry, 5 = comfortable, and 10 = uncomfortably full).
Check yourself before you eat and then again midway through the meal. Stop eating when you get to a “5”.
What the heck does that mean? It means you eat until you’re just satisfied. Until you’re no longer physically hungry. Instead of “stuffed” or “full”.
Don’t get hung up on exactly what “80% full” is, or whether you’re getting to “75%” or “88%”. Shoot for the general idea.
Remember: eat s-l-o-w-l-y. Be patient with “80% full”. It takes practice. But once you get the hang of learning your physical (rather than your social or psychological) hunger cues, this one will be a breeze.
Never hesitate to leave food on your plate (or take it home for leftovers).
And learn to do things other than eating to cope with your emotions – exercise, music, reading, taking a shower, etc.