Eating to Lose Weight – the Problem with always Finishing your Food

From a young age a lot of people are taught to finish all the food on their plate. While I appreciate the sentiment there’s a lot of problems with this. If you’re like me and you fill your plate when you’re super hungry, you’ll likely eat up eating way more than you need to feel satisfied. A lot of us stop eating when we’re full. We stop eating when our plate is empty. If that’s you, you aren’t alone!

I am absolutely not encouraging anyone to throw out their unfinished food. I am the queen of leftovers and always pop my food back in the fridge or ask for a small paper takeaway box! I highly recommend it! Leftovers make great snacks!

So what’s the problem with always clearing our plates? It leads to:

  • overeating
  • weight gain
  • messes with our appetite awareness which makes it difficult to know when we’re hungry and full

This is also why intuitive eating is so difficult for so many of us. We’ve lost the ability to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re satisfied. We tend to overeat because we’re bored, stressed or we’ve deprive ourselves for so long. Over the last 9 months I only counted calories/macros during my mini cut. The rest of the time I eat intuitively, slowly and work on eating to 80% full to become more in-tune with my hunger levels. Doing this has helped me keep off a couple extra pounds without unnecessary cardio, restrictions and dieting.

I’ve used some of these tricks to become more in tune with my hunger levels and minimize my overeating:
  • eat slowly!! Eating slowly generally means you’ll end up eating less
  • chew, chew, chew
  • put your cutlery down between bites
  • set a timer and aim to take 5 minutes longer than usual
  • take less food than I want and wait 15 minutes before getting seconds
  • When I think I’m hungry I ask myself, “would I eat an apple or carrot sticks?” If the answer is no, then I likely don’t need to eat.
  • Eliminate the ideas of “good food” and “bad food” and instead think of foods I should eat more often and less often
  • don’t forget you can wrap food up for later or get a takeaway box if you’re out! Not finishing your food doesn’t mean wasting food!
  • ask to serve yourself
  • ask for half of your meal or be packed up in advance, or simply ask for a half order

A lot of cultures actually have saying for eating to 70-80% full. The Japanese call it Hara Hachi Bu. I definitely recommend reading more about it! I’ll link some articles at the bottom: Some of us have no idea what it feels like to be 80% full! However, learning to do this will not only help you develop a better relationship with food, it’ll also make it easier to lose and keep off unnecessary weight.

People also forget when dieting that it is actually normal to feel a bit hungry. When you’re trying to lose weight you’re going to be in a calorie deficit which means eating less than you’re used to. Although you can minimize this too by including more voluminous foods and veggies in your meals when dieting.

You can also check out my personal weight loss tips here: How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way

Hara Hachi Bu

The Reason Why the Japanese Live 100 Years or More

Staying Lean

The Blue Zones and Hara Hachi Bu

Comments 2

  1. Hello,

    Thanks for this article, intuitive eating is something I have always struggled with because I eat extremely quickly and eat past the point of being full far too frequently! I do have a question about this though; if I am trying to hit a certain number of calories per day to build up muscle (ie. 1900 cal) and also trying to hit specific macro’s, shouldn’t I be finishing all of my prepped meals so that I hit my daily targets, even if I am full? Would love to know what you recommend in this scenario.

    Thank you so much for your time! 🙂

  2. Post

    If you’re in a bulking phase and constantly eating in a surplus it’s more likely you will be feeling slightly uncomfortable. Everyone is different and need different calories to be in a surplus. If you’re struggling to hit your macros via foods I recommend making you own protein smoothies. Those can easily end up being 400-1000 calories which can minimize the difficulty of consuming x calories.

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