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    « Embrace the Opportunity | Main | Coolness »

    Going Mental

    What happens in your mind usually goes off without any help from you.  It's not until we've been made aware of something that we begin to take control of the things that happen in our minds.

    Let's look at a couple of detrimental thought processes that will absolutely kill your progress in dropping fat.

    Thought Process #1 - Clean Your Plate

    Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday.  Mom used to tell me, "There are starving children in Africa, and you're going to leave all of that perfectly good food on your plate.  Clean your plate!"  Effectively shamed into submission and despite feeling full, I begrudgingly ate the remainder of my mashed potatoes and corn so, presumably, the poor starving kids in Africa would live another day.

    Further, my father was a pretty tight-fisted kind of guy when it came to money.  Throwing food away, he claimed, was akin to tossing dollar bills in the garbage.  He brought that military mindset into the house - "Take all you want, but eat all you take."  So rather than scrape the last bits of uneaten food from our plates into the garbage, we found ourselves eating in excess when our eyes were bigger than our bellies.

    Having this message imparted to us day after day, is it any wonder that my entire family (3 children and both parents) have at one time or another struggled with being overweight?

    "Clean your plate" is a TERRIBLE message.  Basically it's saying, "Ignore your body's cues and eat beyond necessity." The feelings of guilt that were thrust upon us as children are unfounded - after all, will throwing away 2 ounces of baked potato and the last bit of chicken REALLY cost an African child his life?  Eating every morsel of food from your plate isn't honorable or moral.  It's counter-productive to your weight and fitness goals.

    If you haven't quite figured out portion control, then just paying attention to your body can save you a LOT of unnecessary calories.  It works like this: If you can feel your belly bulging - even slightly - then you're done eating.  It doesn't matter if there's still half a chicken breast and a few green beans on the plate.  Feeling full means you ate too much, so stop before you reach that point.

    You don't have to clean your plate.  Eat until you are satiated, and not a crumb more.

    Thought Process #2 - Get Your Money's Worth

    I do enjoy the opportunity to go to the local buffet restaurants.  I don't do buffet very often, but when I do, a measure of self control is in order.

    We have a little tradition in our family.  When one of us has a birthday, the celebrant gets to pick a restaurant for lunch or dinner.  As fate would have it, both my younger son and younger daughter chose buffet restuarants for their birthday meals. 

    First, my son chose Chinese.  At $7.99 per adult, it's often tempting to say, "I'm gonna make sure they LOSE money on me."  That is a very, very dangerous mentality to have.  My daughter chose Golden Corral.  $8.99 per adult for dinner.  That represents an even bigger challenge.  It's as if the pricing is challenging our ego by saying, "Ha!  You'll NEVER eat $9 worth of food," to which the more determined mind says, "Oh, yeah?  Just watch me."

    And the self-abuse begins.

    Businesses like this are going to make money off of you.  Unless you stay for hours and eat every piece of shrimp in the building, it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to out-eat the bulk-rate pricing restaurants get for their food.  The only rewards you'll receive if you do manage to out-eat the menu price are a stomachache and more girth.

    There's no prize for beating the cost of your food at a buffet restaurant.  Years ago, I used to think it was funny when I said, "They're not going to make money off of me!"  Now I realize what I was really saying: "This restaurant is out of my price league, so I'm going to eat until I'm sick to make sure I get every penny's worth."

    If you find yourself having this thought upon entering a buffet restaurant - the thought that you're going to out-eat the menu price - then do yourself a favor.  Save the money and eat a meal at home (all the while remembering to avoid Thought Process #1).

    Hopefully being aware of these mental processes will help you take control of your eating behaviors.  Be well!

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Um, P5 says you have 3 children. I'm a tad confused...

    I agree. I think for me, the hard part isn't with myself. I have no problem putting food in the fridge or just stopping eating when I'm not hungry anymore. It's with the kids that I have issues. I hate when they eat only a couple of nibbles and then want to gorge on popcorn an hour later.

    My only personal eating grief is wanting to finish the "meat" or whatever the expensive part of the meal is, even after I've decided I'm done. Like picking the chicken out of the salad after I'm quite finished, to not waste the expensive parts.

    September 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKimmie

    Clarification - The reference to "my entire family" refers to my parents and my 2 siblings. I see the point of confusion for those (like you, Kimmie) that know Alice and I have 4 children of our own. :-)

    December 30, 2010 | Registered CommenterKeith

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