Q&A: How do I stop finishing all the food on my plate?

The Question

My parents always told me that I had to finish all the food on my plate. As an adult, I still believe this. I'll finish everything on my plate, even when I'm stuffed. I don't know what to do. How do I stop finishing all the food on my plate?

The Answer 

Thank you for the question. I know there's a lot of people who can relate to this so I'm glad you asked it. 

There's three things happening here. 

First, you've got a belief that isn't serving you. And it sounds like you're ready to challenge it. 

Second, you've gotten used to looking externally. And it sounds like you're ready to look internally. 

Third, you've got some actions that aren't serving you. And it sounds like you're ready to change them. 

Let's talk a bit more about each of these. 

Challenge A Belief

So, what is a belief?

A belief is a thought we've been thinking over and over again. A belief feels like the truth. It feels very real to us, very automatic. It's our go-to response. 

In this case, you believe you need to finish all the food on your plate. And this feels like the truth, it feels real, it feels automatic. 

Until now...

It sounds like you've become aware that you feel like you need to finish all the food on your plate and you don't want to feel that way anymore. 

So, how do you make this change?

The first step is awareness. This is the most important step and the one you'll spend most of your time in.

Now, you've already become aware that you feel like you need to finish all the food on your plate. But it's time to really understand it. Take the time to understand where it came from and how it's affecting your life. 

Don't rush through awareness. The better you're able to understand this part of your life, the more success you'll be with challenging it. So, I recommend you live in awareness for awhile.

Once you really understand it, then figure out what you want to believe. Practice that new belief for as long as it takes until that becomes your new, automatic, go-to response.

So, the next time you're sitting down for a meal and you're thinking you need to finish all the food on your plate, don't beat yourself up. Just slow down and ask yourself these questions: 

  1. What thoughts am I having? 
  2. Why am I choosing to think these thoughts?
  3. Do I actually believe them?
  4. What do I want to believe?

External vs. Internal

We're about to get super detailed but hang with me here because I know this will help you. 

Let's talk through what happens before you're sitting down at the dinner table. 

Does it look something like this?

  1. A meal is cooked. 
  2. You get a plate from the cabinet. 
  3. You put food on the plate. 
  4. The plate is full of food.
  5. You sit down at the dinner table. 
  6. You eat the food on the plate.

If this is how it looks for you, I've got great news for you. You don't have to change anything on numbers 1-5. You only need to focus your attention on number 6. 

Ask yourself these questions...

When you eat the food on the plate, are you paying attention to your body so you know when you become full? Or are you relying on the plate itself to tell you when you're done eating? 

This is what I mean by external vs. internal. 

The plate is an external measurement that you may be using to tell you when to stop eating. And I recommend you start using an internal measurement. 

So, we sit down to eat our meal and we pay attention to our body. After each bite, we ask ourselves if we're full. 

If the answer is no, we take another bite.

If the answer is yes, we stop eating. 

Stop using the plate as a measurement of what you should be eating. And start paying attention to whether or not your body is full or hungry. 

Change An Action

Challenging a belief and looking internally is your best long term plan. No doubt about it. But there are a few actions you can take at the same time that may help you. 

Here they are:

  • Use a smaller plate 
  • Put less food on your plate 
  • Eat according to food measurements and measure your food before each meal 
  • Fill your plate as you normally would and practice leaving food on your plate 

Can you think of any other actions you could take?

Now, I want to be clear here. All of our actions are fueled by our feelings. And our feelings are fueled by our thoughts. So, always put your primary focus internally on your thoughts and feelings. 

The Wrap-Up

Right now you believe you need to finish all the food on your plate. But you don't want to believe that anymore. 

Focus on challenging your belief first. Focus on paying attention to your body when you eat. And then start to change your actions.

It sounds like you're ready for this change. 

Thanks again for your question. I hope my answer helps you.

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