How to Stop Clearing Your Plate When You’re Not Even Hungry

Article posted in: Lifestyle

Maybe you grew up hearing “clean your plate—there are hungry kids in the world!”­—and it stuck. Maybe you feel rude not finishing the food your aunt dished for you, or maybe it’s just become habit to eat every last morsel, simply because it’s there.

Obviously, this isn’t the best approach when you’re trying to slim down. In fact, breaking the eat-it-all routine is very critical to keep your health goals on track. Thankfully, we have some solutions.

Here’s how to stop clearing your plate:

1. Keep an eye on your serving size.

measuring cups how to stop clearing your plate

A study out of Cornell University shows the average adult will eat 92 percent of whatever he or she puts onto his or her plate—so basically, if you spoon it onto your dish, it’s going into your stomach. Knowing that can help you be aware of appropriate portions, say researchers. The next time you grab the serving spoon, ask yourself, ‘how much should I eat?’ and serve yourself accordingly.

2. Leave a bite (or two) behind.

how to stop clearing your plate when you're full

To avoid overeating, a person must listen to their internal cues rather than external cues. This means stopping when your body feels satisfied and not when you see an empty dish, explains Susan Albers, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. And breaking the clean-your-plate habit takes practice, she says. Start by intentionally leaving a bite at one meal, and maybe two bites the next time. If, this is too difficult, stick to meals that are already the right size: Explore Nutrisystem’s delicious and perfectly portioned dinners here >

3. Box half your entrée before it gets to the table.

how to stop clearing your plate when you're full

More than 90 percent of restaurant meals are oversized—with a single meal sometimes exceeding recommended calorie counts for an entire day, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Pack up half your dish right away, and you’re less likely to pick it clean over the course of dinner.

4. Think about why you clean your plate.

how to stop clearing your plate when you're full

Get to the root of the reason you can’t leave that last meatball, even though you’re stuffed. It may help you find ways to stop overeating. Do you feel guilty tossing leftovers and wasting food? If so, use it to feed the birds in your yard or ducks at a pond, or consider starting a compost pile. Even better: Keep an eye on how much you cook so that you don’t make too much. If you feel obligated to eat your whole meal at a restaurant because you paid for it—plan ahead next time and order a smaller size or an appetizer portion to start. Then add a side of veggies if you’re still hungry.

5. Practice mindful eating.

how to stop clearing your plate when you're full

This approach is about appreciating and savoring every bite of your food. It’s about eating slower and more attentively, while getting back in touch with hunger and satiety cues. When you’re mindful about what you’re eating, you’re less likely to overeat. One way to do that is to eliminate distractions—like the TV or your smart phone—and just focus on your meal.

How to Practice Mindful Eating

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