Carolyn R Parsons

When searching for a particular diet what I'm finding is that almost all of the diets allow you to eat "as much as you want" of a certain food group. The Atkins Diet says as much meat as you can eat is OK, Eat To Live says "eat a BIG salad" but limit other things. It appears that we all want a diet that lets us eat a LOT of some food, big helpings to satisfy our need to over eat.

In spending time thinking about how diets work(or don't work) I've come to the conclusion it's because they do not help us deal with the thoughts that are in our mind that say we need to eat a large quantity of food to be happy and satisfied. There is no way around it. We need to eat less food. If we cannot get our mind around that idea and then do things to reprogram the messages of excess we've been given over the years, we will fail over and over again at having a healthy relationship to our food.

Upon reading the book French Women Don't Get Fat I've discovered that the general culture frowns upon over-eating. Servings are much smaller and often people leave much of it on their plate. I remember years ago going to a very nice "fine-dining" restaurant and having my then husband complain about the size of the servings. However, we both left that restaurant quite satisfied after several courses. A small salad, a small entree meal, cheese and dessert. Very small servings of absolutely delicious food! And of course a glass of wine. We were satisfied and happy. The food, the experience, all were very positive. And no all you can eat buffet! Who would have thought.

When I think back to that meal I understand, what we need to do is find absolutely the highest quality food, eat small amounts of it slowly and enjoy it immensely.

I believe if we go back to the time of the depression we can gain an understanding of what makes us as North Americans want more food than our body needs. We were raised by children of the depression with an understanding that we have to eat all we can now while it's here because the depression left many of our parents and grandparents fearful of starving again. I certainly see that with my mother in law who grew up in depression ravaged Saskatchewan. Encouraging the children to finish all their dinner or they'll get no dessert, to eat as much as possible is certainly how she was raised. She is very moderate in her own eating however and I notice how small her servings are. She often doesn't finish all the food on her plate yet somehow feels the children should. I wonder how much she realises what she's doing.

I've made an effort to make reasonable size portions and to stop when I'm full and satisfied. I've found it's easier for me to put smaller amounts on my plate to start with and go back for a bit more if I'm not quite full than to have the food on my plate. That's when I end up over-stuffed.

I'm also making an effort to moderate the language I use with my children. I talk about being satisfied, rather than full, I do not make dessert contingent upon an empty plate and it's not a reward for a job well done eating, but rather just a part of the meal. My daughter who has the larger appetite does not eat many vegetables but she eats a lot of fruit and I let it go. My daughter who has a small appetite eats vegetables but only picks at her meals. She loves her ice cream for dessert however really doesn't like other sweets such as candy. She will eat a chocolate chip cookie.

What I do notice with both of them is they will leave ice cream in the dish when they are full, the will leave half the cookie behind. They are self-regulating their portions and that makes me happy.

As part of my growth in this journey to understanding my goal is to stop the pattern of disordered eating I'm seeing in myself at me. I will teach my children differently and help them understand, their body knows what it needs, to listen to it and to eat a comfortable amount of food that doesn't stretch and distend but rather fills and satisfies. And that high quality foods make this easier to accomplish.

Affirmation: I now only put superior fresh, seasonal food into my body, in amounts that satisfy me physically.



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  1. Chrisy Says:

    Some words of wisdom here girl...you're obviously going about this in the right way if your children self regulate like this...congrats!