I struggled between whether this should be a mindset post or a midweek post. It's really both! But alas, there were no new recipes used in this house this week, and this mindset issue is specifically about food.
I, KayShay, am the president of the Clean Plate Club. I don't want to be, but I am. Growing up, I heard about all the starving children all over the world as I choked my food down to the last crumb on my plate. And to this day, the anxiety that builds up inside of me thinking about even one bite of food going in the trash can is unbearable.
I am also crippled by a personality trait called a Finisher. Not just of food, of anything. There are Openers, and there are Finishers. I am a Finisher. Openers love starting new things - new projects, new bags of potato chips, new tubes of toothpaste. Finishers love bringing things to a close - completing the project, eliminating the bag of chips from existence, squeezing every last drop out of the toothpaste tube before begrudgingly moving onto a new one. I've been known to fight with my toothpaste for just one more brushing.
Being a finisher has many fine consequences, such as being focused (no ADD here!), being efficient, not wasting time/money/energy/resources, being uncluttered (stuff lying about signals unfinished business), and being reliable (we always follow through). That's not to say that Openers can't have these good traits, they can. They are just less likely.
So lets combine my true-nature need for efficiency and finishing with my learned need to not waste food and you can see why I am the way I am. I always clean my plate, and I do it in a hurry. I'm not enjoying any part of that experience. Except with frosting, but that's the exception rather than the rule.
I'm here acknowledging all of these things about myself as a systematic way of defining my "I Am" boundary with this habit. I am a member of the clean plate club. I've always just accepted that, and felt comfortable knowing that about myself. But lately, I've not felt so comfortable with it. I don't like being a certain way just because I've always been that way. Or, because I was taught to be that way. I like the freedom to choose what I do and who I am. Who I can be.
My plan is to slow down a little bit. Enjoy the experience. I might be one of few people in the world who are trying convert from eating to live to living to eat. For someone who does it so mindlessly, the mindfulness of enjoying and savoring and tasting can be a good transition. I have no reason to inhale my food- no one is trying to take it from me.
Some additional strategies Clean Platers can use:
1. Share your food. The natural concern that whoever you are sharing with will get their desired portion will slow you down. And, the need for a clean plate will likely be fulfilled, but it won't have been done completely by you. Win, win!
2. Use a tiny plate/bowl/cup. Filler up! Eat the whole thing! The portion won't be so huge that cleaning your plate is a problem. When I was in my ice cream after dinner every day habit (which I was able to break only by complete abstinence) I used the tiniest little bowl. I would heap it up and feel like I had a lot, but it was really just over a 1/4 cup, as the serving size very depressingly states.
3. Use a normal size plate, but come with a complete understanding of how much food you really need to eat to fuel your body. So, you might not have a full plate to clean in the first place. I like to start out with a really small serving, see how I feel, and then have a small portion of seconds if I still feel hungry. Clean plate twice!!
4. Tune into your body's signals that you're full. Sometimes this feels less like a big protruding belly and more like that you're enjoying your food less and less as the meal progresses. Slowing down helps with this process- they almost have to go hand in hand. And, once you are full, put down your fork. No starving children will benefit from the few bites left on the plate.