Do You Want A Box For That?

Athena ScalziHey, everyone! I know I’ve been scarce here on the blog lately, what with the holidays and occasionally working once a week (and spending hours watching Tik Toks), I have just been swamped (and lazy)!

But I’m here today to talk about being healthy, or rather one of my attempts to become a healthier person through building new habits and changing old habits. Of course, the term healthy is subjective and looks different for everyone, but what I’m going to be addressing is just what I feel is healthiest for me, both physically and mentally.

I’m sure every one of us was taught from a young age to finish all the food on your plate, and not to waste food. Even if you were full and didn’t want anymore, don’t you know there’s starving kids out there? Obviously I don’t blame my grandma or great aunts for these kinds of things, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect my mentality today.

For as long as I can remember, I have felt like I have to eat everything in front of me. I don’t want anything to go to waste, so even if I’m full I just have to push through and finish it. This has led to me constantly overeating for years, and now I am actively trying to unlearn that behavior.

I kind of hit a breaking point a few months ago where I realized that every time I ate a meal, I was painfully full afterwards. Like so stuffed that I was afraid my stomach would quite literally burst. And it was happening every day. I was doing it to myself, and I wasn’t sure why.

It was partially because I went out to eat at restaurants so often. The portions would be so big, and it was so delicious that I didn’t want to stop, and it cost money so obviously I didn’t want to leave any.

I was talking to my therapist about this problem of mine when she told me that when she has a meal like that, where it’s so delicious that you don’t want to stop eating it, she likes to get a box for it, and then she can have it again later. Not only does she not get overly full, but she gets to enjoy that same delicious meal, a second time.

Getting a box is such an obvious solution, I know, and I’m sure it’s something that almost everyone does without even thinking about it. But in my mind, getting a box felt pointless, because I wanted it all right this minute. It’s delicious food, why would I stop eating it and get a box, when I could just eat it all in one sitting (even if it was too much).

But when my therapist reframed it as “you get to eat it AGAIN”, it changed my view. And yes, that is a very “fat girl” viewpoint to have, but it works.

For the past couple months, I have been stopping before I overstuff myself, and I’ve been getting boxes practically everywhere I go. I haven’t been in pain from overeating in weeks! And let me tell you, those midnight leftovers hit different.

Getting my food in a box is only one step of many that I need to take to overcome my disordered eating habits, but one thing that goes hand in hand with getting boxes is not over-serving yourself in the first place.

Getting a box is a great solution for when you’re at a restaurant since you don’t control their portion sizes, but when you’re at home, the control can come from how much you put on your plate to begin with. So that’s another thing I’ve been working on. Why give yourself more than you can (comfortably) finish in the first place? There can be many answers to that question, and for me I think it was always just that my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I just love food, and I want to eat as much of it as I can.

The holidays are a hard time of year for anyone with food-related issues. Between the Christmas cookie parties, the festive and fun seasonal drinks and flavors, and of course Thanksgiving, the holiday dedicated to literally just food and eating. For basically a month straight, there is constantly food in front of your face, and you are expected to eat that food. Make sure you get a slice of your aunt’s homemade pumpkin pie, be sure you try the ham your mother spent all day cooking, don’t forget to have a bite of your grandpa’s famous jalapeno poppers.

It’s just… a lot. And I know everyone over-eats on Thanksgiving, it’s just what we’re supposed to do. But it feels like relapsing. It feels too familiar to how I felt every day not that long ago. And I don’t like feeling that way.

This whole post is really just to say, “hey look at me! I’m making progress on not overeating 24/7!” Have I lost any weight from doing this? No. Do I feel better anyways? Yes. I feel better about myself, and my choices. I am starting to feel like I really do have control over what I eat, and how much I eat, which is not how I’ve ever really felt before.

There’s so much good food to be had, especially around the holidays, but maybe I don’t have to hurt myself in an attempt to try it all.


47 Comments on “Do You Want A Box For That?”

  1. Boxes are a good idea – for taking home leftovers. The plastic and foam boxes are bad for the environment, however.

    Think about slipping a Tupperware-type container in your bag, and when your plate arrives, take half out from first.

    Oh, keep up the good work and, one day when you least expect it, you’ll probably have dropped some weight.

  2. This is such a life-changing moment! I have a friend who immediately divides her meal in half and knows that she’s taking it home. I sometimes have that kind of willpower. I’m happy that you’ve made this shift and that you’re feeling better!

  3. I love both the realization and the execution!

    The idea that I can’t waste food I’ve paid for (either in a restaurant or at home) is one of the reasons I have struggled with my weight my whole life, too.

    It’s also difficult when I’m cooking for my partner because he’s a 6’1″ 240lb guy who lifts weights and I’m 5’4″ and 160lbs. He not only can eat more food than I can, but he HAS to eat more food, especially on days he lifts weights. It’s hard not to try to “keep up” with him at meal time. I’ve managed to make inroads on this at home by eating off of a smaller lunch plate. I find that the smaller plate helps with my need to fill the plate and then eat all of it. He gets a regular dinner plate, I get a lunch plate and we both walk away feeling satisfied and like we’ve eaten decent portions.

    It’s an ongoing struggle, I know, but kudos to you for the progress!

  4. I have a friend that when we go out to eat (and yes the portions are always large) she immediately uses her knife to cut it down the middle. Then she eats the one half, and has an equal portion to take home.

    Not only does she get to enjoy it again, it does cut the cost per meal in half. So another positive in making this a habit.

  5. Thanks for this column! The reminder is always helpful.

    I live in northern California where many of the to-go boxes are now recyclable and even compostable. A friend of mine asks for a box right upfront when she orders. She says that cues her mind to set some aside.

    Plus, yeah! Two meals, or a meal and snack, for the price of one!

  6. Kara mentioned the smaller plate trick and that actually works on two levels. First, I trick myself into eating less. I got used to a certain size of helping being enough. Second, when someone hands me a bigger plate I can immediately only put enough food on it to match “being enough.” It doesn’t fill up that plate but the habit has been set.
    My continuing issues with weight have more to do with not being active enough. I just don’t know how to trick myself into that yet.
    But, GREAT FOR YOU! Keep up the good habit reforming!

  7. I want to say I feel this so much

    One thing I added to the “get a box” thing is I ask for the box when the food is served, and move half of my food into the box at the beginning. Once it’s off the plate, I’m no where near as inclined to eat it – so I can still “clear my plate” AND I get the benefit of the “eat again” – win win!

  8. Did you know that American PLATES are bigger than European ones? Getting smaller plates makes a psychological difference.

  9. I’m a fellow lover of food, and a product of the “clean your plate, or else” school of child rearing. I love the idea of going in with the knowledge that the box is a part of the meal. I don’t eat out much, but I’m certainly guilty of eating way too much when I’m out because waste and $$ ring my bell. Box it is, from her on out, and thank you!

    My downfall is the “not enough for another meal, so might as well eat it all because it is so tasty!” school of home cooking. I am trying to deal with this by either adding 2 leftover dishes together, or really ramping up the salad with the skimpy leftover.

  10. (TW: discussion of eating disorder)

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been working on recovery from anorexia for years, and I feel like I have the opposite problem: on the rare occasions I go out to eat, I used to always only eat half of my meal so I could save money, avoid waste…and avoid eating “too much,” even if I was still hungry at the end of the meal. It’s been a real sign of progress that sometimes I can go out with family or friends and we’ll actually finish what we ordered! I’m glad it sounds like you’re moving toward a more peaceful relationship with food, regardless of whether or not it changes your weight.

  11. Some years ago I started paying attention, not to when I was full, but when I was not hungry anymore. My face might still want more of what I was eating, but my stomach actually didn’t. And once I got in the habit of stopping once I wasn’t hungry — but before I was full — man, being full started feeling unpleasant. Not pain to the level you’re talking about, but just kind of vaguely ucky and overstuffed. It was really eye-opening.

    I keep leftovers all the time, too, and frequently make my lunch out of dinner from a night or two before. Sometimes I even get three meals out of one order, which makes me feel a lot better about how much the restaurant meal cost . . .

  12. American hospitality tradition requires that nobody leave the table hungry, regardless of how much they end up eating. Restaurant portions have to be the same size every time. So almost everyone gets more food at a restaurant than they’re expected to eat at one sitting, because the only alternative is smaller portion sizes that aren’t going to satisfy growing teens who spent all day running football drills, and that’s just not hospitable.

    So yeah, takeaway boxes are how not to waste food here. Also how to make the price tag on the entree cover two or three meals, not just one.

  13. You can ask for half of a big serving to be put in a box even before it’s served to you! No temptation.

    @Ken American plates are bigger than even American plates from a couple of generations ago.

  14. I love the idea of planning to need a box up front. I’ll practice that, thanks!

    Re. Controlling what gets onto your plate in the first place, I tell myself, “There will be more cake.” For example, did I just see that there’s a Starbucks drive-through up ahead and I automatically thought about getting something? “There will be more hot mochas, no worries; let’s just skip this one today.”

  15. I like the idea to bring Tupperware, since that is the sort of brazen behaviour I would have fun doing. I have just this week bought a long nylon easy-clean bib at a medical store. (snap on, not velcro) Mostly for at my house because I air fry chicken parts with liquid fat inside… but I am looking forward to having the nerve to wear my new bib in a restaurant.

    As a boy I learned that restaurant meals always have too much on the plate because customers cannot ask for seconds.

    I tell group home staff that if their plates are as full as in a restaurant then they have given the clients too much. It was instructive to have an expert come to a staff meeting with rubber fake food to show us how amazingly small the needed portions are according to science.

    An American father took his Japanese teenage daughter to visit her US relatives in San Diego. From a fast food place he came back to the car with a drink for her. “Why did you get me so much? I can’t drink all that.” He had brought her the smallest drink they had.

  16. I got lucky – my parents were careful about my relationship with food. I was straightforwardly encouraged to eat when I was hungry and stop when I wasn’t hungry. There was no guilt or shame. I remember apologizing once for not getting through a lot of food, but my parents were unfazed and just said, “It’s OK!” Leftovers could always go in the refrigerator for tomorrow. One time I went over to a friend’s house and their parents played the “starving children in Africa!” card. I’d never seen that argument before, and I’ve despised it since. As if an unfinished meal necessarily indicates a lack of appreciation! It doesn’t teach gratitude or awareness of inequality – just conformity, uncritical obedience, and, as you say, compulsive eating. (Plus it’s a reductive stereotype about an entire continent, but then that’s true of about 95% of what white people in this part of the world try to say about Africa.) And yeah, American portion sizes are pretty darn big. That’s probably the thing that “starving children in Africa!” adherents should be looking at first.

  17. I like eating Italian, spicy Chinese, or Mexican leftovers cold for breakfast the next morning. I’m vegetarian, though. Animal fats can be less palatable when cold than vegetable fats.

    Eating out tends to consume a lot of time and money as well as creating a need to deal with large portion sizes. I try to limit eating out to days off and go home afterwards to refrigerate the leftovers. Mostly I try to make my own food as much as possible. When I get so busy that I feel like I can’t cook and I have to grab quickie snacks all week I end up feeling yucky.

  18. Look who’s back! And it resonates. “Don’t waste food.” My parents always seemed to feel the Depression could return at any moment (yes I’m old).

    Restaurants are a challenge, but also meals at home with guests where one stays a long time at the table. I’m proud though that I got through Thanksgiving with very modest damage. As well as some nice food! I tried to exercise some priorities. Which included pecan pie … but not absolutely all of the pecan pie available, as would be my instinct.

  19. Interesting language difference “Get a box for that”, in Australia it would be “Get a doggie bag for that”.

  20. When I was a child people called it a doggie bag in the US. At some point most people dropped the presence that humans were somehow above eating leftovers from restaurant meals.

  21. I put on a lot of weight in the years after college, partly because my metabolism slowed down at the same time I started getting less exercise, and partly because my mom was always on a diet when I was growing up, and I had an intense dislike of the idea of diets. I was so averse to the idea of always being restricted on what to eat that I didn’t really seriously consider a middle path until many years later when I realized how much weight I’d put on, and I was getting older and starting to worry about diabetes.

    I still have zero interest in diets, but what helped me a lot is rethinking my relationship to food. This meant figuring out why I would eat more than I needed to, and how to make my eating more efficient without feeling like I was being deprived of what I wanted. Over time I introduced small changes that made a big difference, and combined with adding in a habit of exercise I am at a healthy weight now which I’ve maintained for 10 years.

    Some things I changed:

    Planning to split my meals in two when going out to eat. At the start I found it helped to request an extra plate so I could separate the food at the start. I could always eat more off the 2nd plate if I really felt like I needed it, but separating the food helped my brain a lot, and I got to enjoy the leftovers. For most of my life I would never eat leftovers, mainly because I didn’t really know how to reheat them in a way that tasted good, but I figured it out.
    At home, when eating, I serve myself slightly less than I think I want, but leave the extra on the counter so I can go get more if I really want it. My body doesn’t really give me good “I’m full” signals, but I found that if I’m not sure I’m done with the food, I should wait 5 minutes, then check in again with my body- usually at that point if I’m still feeling like I want more, it’s the taste I want, and a bite or two more satisfies me
    For some of my particularly unhealthy preferred foods, I evaluated whether there might be alternatives that would fill the craving (which is usually something like wanting something sweet) and gradually replaced them. I used to love a bit of ice cream before bed. Now I eat some fruit, and save the ice cream for when I’m really craving it. I found I don’t crave it the way I used to, some of it was just habit
    I’m a fairly picky eater, and I eat only 5 different vegetables and am very particular about how they’re prepared. I realized I do like those veggies, I just wasn’t eating them much because lack of convenience. I made a point of making half my meals vegetable, by alternating bites with the rest of my meal. I always make sure to have some kind of veggie available for every meal (I keep baby carrots on hand for going out to restaurants as they’re easy) and now when I eat if I forget my veggies my meal feels weird. This helped balance my portion sizes out and keep me from eating as much of the unhealthy bits of the meal
    When I do eat unhealthy stuff, I always apply the calorie value evaluation. If I eat candy that has a mix of flavors, I skip the flavors I don’t like as much. I don’t eat cookies if I take a bite and I find it’s only a meh cookie. With packaged unhealthy foods I also tend to look at the calories and serving size and figure out ahead of time a reasonable limit as to how much I want to consume, rather than just keep eating them as my body says more. I also try to make sure if the food is unhealthy, I don’t make it too convenient to get more, better to make myself decide if it’s really worth going back into the kitchen for another serving

    Everyone’s different, but a big factor in adjusting eating habits is understanding what your body is telling you and how your mind responds to various scenarios. Small hacks and gradually built habits can make all the difference and it’s more sustainable than diets.

  22. I too grew up with the “eat everything on your plate” thing, and it’s a good thing. Food waste is immoral. As a result I can usually make another complete meal (or two!) out of leftovers from the fridge every week.

    I also drink a pint of water with each meal to slow me down and make my tum get to the point of being full more easily.

    Along with the water, I have also started doing an “alcohol OR dessert” thing, which has been successful in cutting down unneeded calories and booze, to the point that I often forget about having either. Result!

  23. I’ve got some tips for home eating that work for me.

    Cook the amount you plan to eat. Weigh pasta, rice etc. I realise this is difficult when you have children, but when you’re alone or eating with other adults you know it works (partner, parent, friend). A bit less with a new guest, you have to find out if they are a big eater.
    And you can always add more vegetables to bulk a meal op.

    I always divide home meals into two servings. It takes some time for your stomach to signal it is full, the pause between the plates helps. The first plate I tend to gobble up because I’m hungry, but then I get a second plate which I really enjoy. The portions will look small, but I know I’ll get more.

    Don’t eat things you wouldn’t buy. Why fill the limited amount of space in your stomach with cookies you don’t like, of with an apple pie that isn’t really good and served too cold?

    The same goes for a lot of restaurant food. It helps a lot to realise that you can make the same meal for yourself, precisely according to your wishes, it will probably be better and often cheaper. Even sandwiches.

    Think up polite excuses beforehand. “Sorry, I’m full”, “I’m nog hungry yet”, “I’ll pass for now” – and later doesn’t have to happen!
    For drinks: no beer/wine “because I have to drive”, “I have to work early tomorrow”, or “because I haven’t had coffee or tea yet, so I’ll have that first”, or “I’m really thirsty so I’ll take a glass of sparkling water first”. It’s a pity you have to find excuses to not drink alcohol, but that’s another subject.

  24. When I was trying to lose some weight at home I would dish up my husband’s plate and then dish mine up a fourth of what I gave him. This looked really small but once I ate it amazingly it was just right.
    I’m also now paying attention to when the real taste lessens – the first small bit tastes wonderful and after that taste dulls – a good time to quit.
    And I love having leftovers. Sometimes I do something a little different to them so we have a completely different “leftover” meal.
    Food is my way of comforting myself so this has always been an ongoing thing in my life.

  25. Great work! I’m going through a similar journey, changing my relationship with food, and it feels so awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  26. I’m really happy for you. My therapist just helped me with similar issues, except that I didn’t figure it out till I was old and very, very sick. And until I was living on my own and west from people who made me feel like I had to keep up the bad habits did that I could prove that I loved them… Who kept forcing food… And really unhealthy food for me… on me even when I tried to explain that my doctors said that the food was making my health worse.

    You’re not alone. I hope that you keep feeling good about yourself and your choices. It’s an amazing place to be.

  27. Something that helped a lot for us was getting smaller-sized dinner plates. You don’t have the pathetic look of a half-full dinner plate–it’s a full meal!–but your portions are automatically smaller.

    When we did this, we discovered that the “smaller” dinner plates were the STANDARD size until a few years ago.

    Yay leftovers! You get to indulge yourself twice!

  28. I’m a little surprised to read that the “there are starving children in [poor country]” trope is still propagating down through the generations. I thought the X’ers like me and your dad had stomped that out with our own kids.

  29. If I divide something in half and put half away before I start, that can work for me. If it’s still visible, I’m gonna eat it. I also have trouble with ‘a package is a serving’ and ‘if I’m not sick as a dog, how do I know I’ve had enough’.
    Also, there are starving children in poor countries, and me over-eating isn’t gonna help them. Maybe everybody stop destroying the environment might help them.

  30. Hi, Athena,

    I love seeing how you have been growing as a writer through the past few years.

    I feel your pain about feeling compelled to eat everything in front of you. I struggle with food (I have binge eating disorder) and have tried for years to control my intake. When I try to diet it just does the opposite.

    What I have found that works for me is to use a Habit Tracker calendar with some fun color markers to fill in the spots on it. I made a list of things I want to be mindful about on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Most of them are things like “remember to clean the litter box” and “dust the house, but I also include food-related items. I put on their “no junk food” and “eat 5 or more servings of veggies” and amazingly I started to pay more attention to what and how much I was eating! My reward for accomplishing the items on the habit tracker was filled in squares with pretty colors. I have also managed to somehow lose 19 pounds over the last year and a half without dieting (or binging).

    I hope that you find something to help you continue on your recent success! And keep writing, please!

  31. Speaking of doggie bags, (Fraser, Gretchen) and back when they were a new thing, I’m still laughing at the time a housewife sheepishly asked for a doggie bag “for the dog.”Her little boy got excited, “We’re going to get a dog! We’re going to get a dog!”

    Athena, I always like how your personal posts prompt so many to answer.

  32. I grew up with food insecurity, and there’s an ongoing battle against “stuff yourself while you can because you may never have access to food again.” Brains are touchy about resources necessary for survival, and conflicting social programming only confuses them more.

    Good for you for recognizing habits that aren’t serving you and working to change them.

  33. I hear you. I was always guilty of overeating because the food tasted good, it was a favorite, or any number of other excuses I could come up with. And restaurants- well, we all know those portions are much more than I should eat. But, I would often eat till I was (over)full, and look at what was left. “That’s not enough for lunch, but if I leave it, they will just throw it away, and I hate the thought of wasting food like that.” So, I would stuff it in and fell horrible, physically and mentally after.

    And now- we’ve joined a fitness + nutrition-based personal trainer gym, and they are helping us think differently about things like that. Now, I look at my plate and think “Well, if I add a salad or some extra veggies or fruit to this, it will make a good lunch.” At home, it’s more being really conscious of how I feel while eating so I can stop when I feel comfortably full.

    Food is a big issue for a lot of people. It’s hard to break old habits. Good for you to have decided to try and work through some of those, and do better!

  34. Well done you!

    I didn’t grow up with the “starving children in Africa” thing, but with family who showed how much they loved you by feeding you. You were supposed to show how much you loved them back by eating everything they put on your plate. That in combination with the taught value (by people who grew up in the Depression and then went through UK wartime rationing) that you must never throw food away led to a similarly unhealthy relationship with food. This was made worse when I bought a set of plates that was larger than I was used to, but went on filling them up as it looked mean not to. It has taken time to overcome all of that, foolishly I didn’t start as early as you have so there was more ingrained habit to get over. But by changing one thing at a time I have got to a far healthier and more comfortable place – I too have done the “so full it hurts” thing.

    So again “Well done you!” and remember – progress isn’t likely to be a straight line up, so not doing so well around the holidays is no big deal, just get back to it when you can.

  35. Athena, I’m rooting for you. That’s the first thing I want to say. Feeling good is really the key to keeping up with any healthy habit.
    Speaking of plates.
    One of the things I found works for me at home is putting smaller portions of the more calorie dense parts of my meal on my plate (usually starches and meats) and them immediately fill up the rest of the plate with fresh fruit and/or veggies that I already have washed and ready to go. Boom, plate looks nice and full and appealing to the eye and you get a taste of everything.
    Of course, this only works if it’s fruit and veggies you genuinely like (I’m lucky that I was exposed to a lot as a kid and liked it all. Including broccoli. Really!). And there is the annoyance of prep work, but I will admit I buy some pre-washed veggies and I give myself lots of praise when I do prep veggies for later. (Hey, it’s okay to give yourself a gold star if it works as motivation)
    I often double up on whatever the veggie side everyone else is having for the meal too, but I’m weirdo who really likes to eat veggies (but needed an extra push to get back into the habit of having them be a big part of my diet). That’s also more at home than at restaurants, but I’ve been known to order an extra veggie side in restaurants (if it’s reasonably healthy)
    Also every three bites or so, I try to remember to stop and take a sip of water.
    Anyways, just suggestions. Nothing anyone has to do. Food can be such an emotional and challenging thing. Good for you for tackling it head on and sharing the journey with us.

  36. My mother has really unhealthy attitudes towards food, and it took me a while to unlearn them. I’ve had to divorce food from morality. Food is amoral. You can eat it, or not, or eat what you want. I’ve had to tell myself, “You don’t have to eat that if you don’t want to.”

    I also love what my spouse has termed the “pre-leftover”. When I cook a big batch of something delicious, I serve myself and also immediately put some in small containers for the freezer. Freeze it when it’s fresh, not when you’re already tired of it.

    Having a full freezer makes me feel rich, and I love stowing little goodies in there for myself to find later (a meal I already made! Thanks, past me!).

  37. Feeling good is the best reason to do anything! I’m a tiny person with a tiny stomach (who was never told to ‘finish my plate’, thank Zod), so eating half my food later is normal – and AWESOME! Sometimes if I eat late, I wake up in the morning & think, “wait, don’t I still have some clam alfredo pasta left?” Anything can be great for breakfast. Literally anything!

  38. Have you considered eating out less often? Perhaps a $$$ budget for that activity would help.

    We hardly eat out any more, having lost the habit during the “dot bust” around 2001 (when jobs evaporated).

    As an aside, this change of habits made the onset of the pandemic much less painful for us than for many of our friends.

  39. I get it. Oh, do I get it. Most of my family treated food as a tangible form of love. Clean plates were pretty well expected. My hubby is the one who keeps deprogramming me (not just with food), encouraging me to stop when I need to, not when the plate is empty. Most restaurant meals, seldom as they are, will give me at least two meals. We often bring half of my food home, and anything delivered or carryout will feed me three to five times. Yeah, my appetite isn’t huge. I’m not losing weight, though, so I just had a dietician consult the other day. I need to walk more. Time to tell hubby to take me for a stroll in the house. Our 21st anniversary is coming up this February.

    Cherish being able-bodied. You never know when it will end. Fibromyalgia started kicking my tail at 34. I’m not walking more than 100 ft. at a time nearly 23 years later.

    BTW, thanks for your Sakuraco reviews. You got me and hubby interested in them, and now we’ve been getting them since August 2021.

  40. My food is OK; my latest stupidity is to compulsively stay on social media until my eyes are tired and I feel body sick from staying up too late, and mentally sick about the time wasted. We humans are frail creatures.

  41. I just turned 50 – this is something I fight myself internally every-single-day. Then, there was the big family – so, if you wanted a little more, you had to clean your entire plate, but quickly – as we were competing with older farm-working teenagers… So – eating fast became the norm.

    (And you are in the US, where restaurant portions are… 2-3 times what we get served here in Canada)

    It’s a tough battle. Good you bring it up in therapy – that can help.

  42. When I was a kid, the starving children were in China. It didn’t make any sense, either. I wanted to address the issue of expecting instant weight loss–an error in thinking. After all, you’re adjusting how you feel, and how you experience your body, and since you’ve been stuffing for a while, it takes a while to un-stuff. Assigning a score may help, but it may not. You have to know what motivates you, and beware of what traps you. I’m saying you but it applies to us all. There’s undoubtedly an emotional component in there that needs to be addressed. Presumably, getting in touch with your own pleasure principle will give that needy component some balance. Your therapist sounds like a good one. Hang in there.

  43. Bravo! And thanks, once again, for your insights, your courage, and your ever-increasingly good–often excellent, IMHO–writing.

    I’m of the “you must eat everything on your plate” Boomer generation, My mother, a Holocaust refugee, would say “starving children in China would give their right eye-tooth (huh? I think she meant the upper canine) for what you leave on your plate.” Reasonable suggestions like “let’s mail it to them” were not well received. This was compounded by the fact that my mother, may she rest in peace, was a terrible cook–before fleeing Germany at age 20 she’d grown up in a wealthy family where all cooking was done by servants, so she just didn’t have the chops (pun not intended), and our meals were based on canned, frozen, or other 1950s prepared foods–it was hard to clean a plate even if hungry. On the other hand, my paternal grandmother had emigrated years earlier and was Viennese, with a culture of five (mostly smaller) meals a day and dicta like “there’s no such thing as too much sour cream,” so I was conflicted.

    I agree completely with the physically smaller plates and “get a box” (better, a re-usable container) ideas, although at least for me there’s the danger of the refrigerator gradually filling up with these unless carefully curated. Combined with my mother’s “never waste even a bite” philosophy, which I’ve been unable to shake completely, this results in occasional Science Fair projects at the back of the shelves, which I’m still reluctant to discard because I suspect that green fur might conceal the secret for a cure for COVID.

    A major danger for me is “eating out of boredom,” whether snacking at home or eating out. I suppose if there’s any cure for that, it’s simply to have enough to do to avoid getting bored, so when I start feeling peckish I try to figure out if it’s real hunger or just boredom and, if the latter, if there’s something I can do in the moment that will pique my interest rather than my (spurious) appetite.

    I’ve been enjoying your snack box descriptions, but I also keep in mind Michael Pollan’s excellent advice: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” You (and your blog readers) might enjoy his book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Or, if you’re interested in cooking (as your forays into baking suggest), the same author’s “Cooked.”

  44. This is me when I weighed 250:
    I’m at 190 now. Could lose another 10 and not miss it but, eh, my doctor’s not concerned. Took about 10 years to get there.

    Portion control was a huge part of it. Easy (for me) since I do my own cooking most nights, and brown bag my lunch to work. And I radically increased my exercise.

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