Habits are funny things. Who knows when they begin but next thing you know they own you. A lot of our most perilous perilous habits started in childhood and many of those from the best of intentions.
The childhood habit I have that still has a hold on me is the Clean Plate Club. Of course, my parents meant well by insisting we eat our food. There really are hungry children all over the world!
As I got older and started really abusing food this Club Membership took on a whole new level. I’d finish whole pizzas, entire loaves of bread, and more. I would eat until I felt physically so full then I’d pause, breathe deep, and go back in. Looking back it’s insane, but it was my way of life.
After Gastric Bypass I had to learn how to live a new way. No eating and drinking at the same time, taking my vitamins everyday and learning actual portion sizes were just the beginning. With time, you learn to master these skills but old habits die hard.
It’s been exactly 777 days since the surgery and the one habit that still takes me a moment to process is leaving food on my plate. I try to be very cautious of my portion sizes and only take what I need but even with the best of plans in place it can be too much food. My first instinct is always to try to power through it. Then I remember that is no longer my life.
Now, as soon as I reach that point I’ll stop. It’s easier at home because I can just return to the kitchen and put the food away. In restaurants it can be a bit more challenging. I think most post op surgical people don’t want to draw attention to their eating. So when food is just sitting on my plate and I’m not touching it people start to ask questions. Now, I follow two rules in a restaurant:
- I ask for a take out box when I order and immediately place all but the correct portion size in the box and put it away. I even tie the bag closed.
- As soon as I’m done eating, whatever isn’t going home gets covered by a napkin and lightly pushed into the plate. This is just a little insurance that I won’t lift the napkin and go back in.
When my husband started to notice my “napkin trick” he asked me what I was doing and I explained my insurance policy for food and how I’m trying to shift my habit of cleaning my plate. He asked if I thought that would ever change. I told him I wasn’t sure but I will continue to do this every time I feel like the urge to join the Club again since my membership has been permanently revoked!
Then I think of what basketball player Steph Curry said in one of those mini documentaries about his life and it made perfect and clear sense to me.
I do the napkin trick, too. I think of it as a the remaining food being “dead to me.” 🙂