What size plate are you using for your meals?
I recently heard someone say that they prefer to use small plates when they eat their meals. When I asked why, she said it’s because it helps her manage overeating. If you’re a member of the “Clean Plate Club” this is also used to help manage that. I thought to myself “Wow! She must have some powerful plates because my plates don’t have those kinds of special powers!”
I’m just being funny because I think that what she meant was when she uses a small plate, she tends to serve herself less food. And, while I understand why someone might think this is perfectly acceptable, my diet mentality warning antenna popped up and here’s why.
- Using small plates could be an indication that you’re trying to control how much you eat.
- It could be a way to control the types of foods you choose to eat based on size, length, etc.
- It could also be an indication that you don’t trust yourself around food and need a small a plate to guide you.
On the plus side, I see that using a small plate could give you that pause you may need to check your fullness levels. While I’m 100% in favor of that, be sure that you allow your fullness level guide your next decision and not your clean plate. So, if you clean your small plate and discover that you’re still hungry and want more food, give yourself permission to eat more food! Remember, food restriction has the same negative effects as dieting and usually leads to a binge eating or overeating later.
Why does this matter? It matters because people are sometimes using small plates to tell their bodies to stop eating but they may still be hungry. But, because their plate is clean, they don’t check-in or all allow themselves to eat more because the plate is their fullness meter and not their body. While we are free to use whatever size plate we want, if we ever want to learn to trust and allow our bodies to guide us (which is the focal point of Intuitive Eating), we need to tune-in to our bodies and stop using external things to tell us what our bodies need.
I know what you may be saying to yourself…
“Yeah, but when I use a big plate I overeat and feel awful!”
My response: I get it, but if you keep allowing and tuning in, this will dissipate over time. Patience in the process is the answer here.
“I don’t want to overeat because I’m afraid I’ll get fat.”
My response: If you continue to believe that thinner is better or being thinner is healthier, you’ll unlikely ever find food freedom.
“I have a hard time honoring my fullness and need the small plate or _______ to guide me.”
My response: Take your time and tune-in during and after your plate is empty to assess where your fullness meter is. Let this be your guide, not your plate.
Trust me, I’ve said things like this to myself and have heard the same or similar comments from my clients, so I get it, girlfriend! I’m not judging, I’m trying to help you see this in a new light.
However, the reality is that any time we’re trying to control our food intake with a plate, a timer, a bogus rule, we’re not eating intuitively. Period. If you want to truly be free from food obsession and/or restriction, weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) (even though you’re not stepping on the scale) you’ll need to learn to tap into your bodies inherent inner wisdom. With that, you can relearn to trust your body so it can tell you what it needs, how much it needs, and when it needs it. Basically, you’ll be relearning what dieting/restricting stole from you for all those years!!
Getting in touch with your hunger and honoring your fullness is one of the most fundamental concepts of Intuitive Eating. Believe me, because I’ve done it myself, trying to control your food in any way will never allow you to fully embrace Intuitive Eating. However, allowing all foods (unless there is a sensitivity or allergy to them) and tuning in to your natural bodies cues will.
So, use whatever size plate you want bearing in mind what I said. When you learn how to tune-in to your body instead of using your plate to tell you when you’re full, you’re flexing that trust muscle which makes food freedom possible.
What external distractions are you using to control what and how much you’re eating?