From the moment you were born, you intuitively knew how much food your body needed to get enough energy. You cried when you were hungry and stopped eating when you were satisfied. You did not need a meal plan to tell you the best way to eat for your blood type or a diet book to guide your eating.
You were born understanding how to best fuel your body so that you thrived, grew strong and healthy. But for many of us, we have lost this.
Being told to always finish everything on your plate, silly diet rules or learning to eat according to the clock, all damage our ability to eat intuitively.
This week's listener question came from Jess, and we unpack how we can get retrain our thinking about clearing out plates and become in tune with our hunger again.
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Welcome back to the No Wellness Wankery podcast. My name is Jenna D'Apice
And I'm Lyndi Cohen.
And today, we're going to be answering a question from Jess.
Jess, what is your question?
Hi, Lindy. I was hoping you could answer a question about breaking those habits from childhood. You know when your mom says you need to
clean your plate because kids are starving in Africa. It takes a lot of getting over to get past this. Any tips? I mean Jess, you're very right. It does take quite a bit to get over that because we have a whole generation of maybe they're like people who came from the war or harder times and they were very much like on the food security, you have to eat everything on your plate because I grew up and I didn't have much food, therefore you have to finish everything. And the problem with this is it teaches us as children to ignore our internal food cues. It doesn't matter if I'm hungry still, it doesn't matter if I don't like the food I'm eating, food is only finished when everything has been
eaten on the plate. Then you'll look around and you'll see people who
they haven't been forced to finish everything on their plate. So what we want to try and do is help us get back to being more intuitive eaters. Some of my friends I've noticed like will eat a sandwich or something and they can leave like the smallest bit and I can't get my head around it. I'm like that's one bite and they're like no but I'm full. I'm like but I would push past fullness because there's one bite on the plate.
I can't fathom it.
Yeah, or they don't like the taste of something, so they just leave that bit out. Whereas I think when I was still struggling with this idea, I would eat things and just force myself to eat it. I got accustomed to having sad food. I remember this one time I dished myself up a bowl of cereal and it had gone so soggy because I hadn't eaten it quickly and I was forced to finish this really awful bowl of cereal. And I think so many people have these experiences, these really negative food experiences where it can almost turn you off certain foods, you have trauma related to some food or you have a problem where like us, you feel like you can't just leave a little bit of food on the plate.
Because probably when the whole idea of clear everything off your plate started, there probably wasn't that much food on the plate in the first place. So it was like, you need to eat something to survive, eat this food. But when we have so much food now, the plates are probably so big, there's probably just like a whole pot that you can take whatever you feel like. If the plate's huge and you don't have any queues, then like an hour later, you're like, oh, I'm way too full.
Yes. Yeah, yeah. Things have changed, right? I think fundamentally the thing that underlines this whole idea is I feel guilt for leaving food on my plate. I feel like I'm a bad person because I'm wasting food. And that is the underpinning belief and philosophy in that food must be finished. And I think we need to tackle it from a food waste perspective. So something that can be useful is thinking about like this. Food is wasted if it goes in the bin and you didn't eat it, but food is also wasted if you eat it and you didn't need it. So if this was food that was beyond your hunger needs, beyond your appetite needs, and you were simply eating it to tick a box, then in the same way it is wasted food. So to try and think about it as just different forms of waste can be a helpful thing. So giving you a little bit more permission to go, you know what, it's already waste. It doesn't need to still then be consumed by me.
And I suppose also checking in other points and just when you're shopping and cooking and thinking how many people are going to be eating it, how much you actually need to buy in the first place, how much you need to cook in the first place. And then also I find it's helpful if I've got a meal, thinking of other things I can do with the leftovers, like I don't actually have to eat them all. If there's leftovers, I can do this with it in another meal. I can do this with it.
Yeah, food waste is a huge component. If you are living a large portion of your food, you can actually just pop that back in the fridge and store it in a safe way, airtight container, of course. But I think beyond food waste, what we're really talking about here is the ability to know that you don't have to finish everything that is being served to you. So one part of that is knowing that you can dish up how much food you need to eat. And sometimes we need to reevaluate how much food we need. For example, I don't know if you've ever seen those like man-sized pies. Man-sized. You know, like apparently men are meant to eat more food than women. I always had this belief that if my partner had to eat more than me or my mom would say, oh, the boys are hungry, let the boys have second helpings. But as a woman, I was never allowed to. So part of it is tuning into your internal appetite and not eating how much you think you're meant to be eating. You might notice as well if you're trying to compete with someone else next to you, sometimes you use how much someone else is dishing up as a guide for how much you should be dishing up for yourself. And I think fundamental to this idea of being able to leave something on your plate is this belief, anytime I want to have more, I am allowed. If you've been taught during your life that at some point food is going to be taken away from you from going on a diet, if you're scared that food is not freely available, that you can't just eat whatever you want whenever you want it. Anytime you get access to food, your body is going to want to finish that all. But something that I find that people who leave food on their plate, they're non-dietists. These are people who do not ever fear that food is going to be restricted and as a result, they trust that more food is always available. If I'm not hungry, that's fine.
How can you tell yourself that more food is always available?
It's literally about reminding yourself. When you're like, let's say you've got, oh, I'm noticing I'm full. Do I keep eating? You say in your brain, anytime I want more food, I'm allowed. If I want to eat this in an hour, if I want to eat it tonight, tomorrow, I can go out and I can get this food for myself. There is no limit. There is no hold back. Food is always allowed for me. Or anytime I feel hungry, I'm allowed to eat. So you have these phrases and you need to help your body feel safety and trust around food. And this, you know, honestly, this is a huge thing. So an example is like chocolate, right? So let's say you have the block of chocolate out and you're like, oh, I really am only allowed two squares. What that does is it creates a sense of food insecurity in your brain where you go, well, I'm only allowed two, but I want to get as much as I possibly can so when no one's looking I'm just going to eat half the block. But when you say to yourself, I'm allowed to eat as much chocolate as I want to feel satisfied. Now or later, if I want more later, I can come back and have more. If I want more tomorrow, I can have more. What this does is it changes everything. You might notice you might have a few squares or some days you might have two rows or however much you need that day, but you're going to notice that crazy energy you feel around the chocolate is shifted because it's no longer a forbidden food and you really can't have it any time. It's not contraband. It's not contraband and this is how non-dieters think because why would someone who's never been on a diet think, oh I'm not allowed to have chocolate. They know it's always there therefore they can keep it in their house. They've got stacks of chocolate. Non-dieters have so much chocolate in their house and they don't think about it. They forget to eat it. They forget it's even there. They forget it's meal time. It blows my mind, but it's because they know and trust, anytime I'm hungry, anytime I want to eat what I want to eat, I am allowed and it is there for me.
They have access to food. I've read something before and I don't know if this is true either, a bit of myth-busting, like that it takes 20 minutes for the food to recognize if you're full.
Yeah, so once you've eaten food, it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate with your brain to say, we are full and it's time to stop eating, generally.
So how, when we, most of the times, I probably sit down and eat my entire dinner in 10 minutes and I've probably already cleared the plate. How do you juggle that?
Yeah, okay, so I think that what we're talking about is slow and mindful eating, which is also another trait of someone who's a non-dieter, someone who's never feared that there's a shortage of food, that it's limited, that it has to be consumed quickly. They can be slow eaters. Part of being a slow eater is eating without distraction. It's a habit. Sometimes I notice when I'm eating, I'm still chewing the food that I'm chewing and I'm already going in with my fork for another mouthful. Have you ever noticed someone who is an intuitive non-dieter, how slowly they eat?
Yeah, and sometimes I'm like, are you even paying attention to the food? And they're probably like, no, I'm not.
I'm having a conversation. Everyone else has finished the meal and they're like halfway through. They're like the slowest eaters. I aspire to be a slower eater. In fact, I think it's a really good thing for us to try and do. But also, coming back to this idea, to be a slow eater, you need to trust that there is more food. I think there's an idea when you're a dieter, this is the portion size I'm allowed, and I'm going to try and get that as quickly as I can because there's a need, there's a lust for that food. And being able to slow down is trusting that you can go for seconds. If you finish this meal and you're still hungry, you can go for seconds, you can go for thirds, you can eat as much as you can whenever you need, it's still going to be allowed. And that trust allows us to actually slow down and become more mindful eaters. And then you can probably actually take a minute to like, do I want to clear this plate? Do I not want to clear this plate? How hungry am I? Is this the right amount of
food? Yeah and can I give you permission
that sometimes you will totally finish everything on your plate? Yeah because I do fall into that. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't clear the plate so then I have this pressure myself that I have to Well, that's a mind game, isn't it? Let's ditch that. Let's ditch that. That's not helping anyone. You're okay if you leave food on your plate. You're okay if you don't. But I think what makes a difference is just reminding yourself that you really are allowed to have more whenever you need and noticing how the guilt, which is I shouldn't have eaten that, is the exact opposite of giving yourself permission to eat as much as your body needs.
And exactly what we need to be avoiding.
Yeah, we'll keep working on that. Anyways, guys, thanks for tuning in to this podcast today. If you ever do have a question, please send me a DM via my Instagram at nude underscore nutritionist and leave me a voice note and that way we can answer your questions on the podcast. And also, if you have the love in your heart and you feel like leaving us a nice review, we'd be so grateful, that'd be so great.
We would love that, and we'll chat to you next time.
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