Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Portion size

OK...I will warn in advance that this post is kind of ridiculously introspective about my eating habits...

I read in a book once that we only really taste the first several bites of what we eat. After that our tastebuds dull and we're just eating on autopilot. I employed this tactic when I started my diet, partly on purpose an partly by accident- For the first few days I was eating REALLY small portions. They were too small even for a dieter because I wasn't yet measuring, and additionally they were just WAY smaller than I was used to. The effect was definitely that my food tasted much more strongly - I never got to the place where my mouth was bored of what I was eating.

I still employ the idea of not eating a huge massive pile of something, even if it's low-calorie. I don't always do this, but I try to. It's much harder to eat lots of small portions of things - when I eat salads I try and eat some of the components separately, so I'm not just getting the dressing flavor for 30 bites of food or whatever.

Anyway, while it's kind of a pain, as you can't just throw together a big salad, ala Elaine, and be done with making lunch. But there is some merit to this practice. It really does help me naturally stop eating before I've overeaten - you know those times when the brain and stomach aren't quite communicating until it's too late and you're overly full? That doesn't happen too much to me anymore - not never, but not often.

And more than that - especially when I was eating so little, it was really important to me to eat foods I loved. Eating seemed like such a rare treat, in comparison to my former constant grazing and craving-indulging. But even now, I still want to love everything I eat. Life is too short to be bored. Thirty-five bites later, whatever you're eating just can't be that exciting any more. Calories are better saved for other tastes.

I don't always follow this - sometimes my salads, soups and bowls of cereal are too big. But I do try and keep this rule in the back of my head. I also considered posting this idea a while ago, but didn't as it's a little, um, not crazy exactly, but perhaps overly thought through and not for everyone. I'm kind of saying don't eat a huge salad just on principal, even if it's not too many calories. But I think that after months and months of this practice it really did rewire my brain to make better choices without too much thought - along the lines of Kessler's theories.

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