Every morning I use to eat a huge bagel, loaded with peanut butter, and a sliced banana with coffee and creamer. That was nearly 750 calories for breakfast alone. Breakfast was my smallest meal of the day! Hard to believe sometimes how big my portions use to be. That may not be a big breakfast for someone who has a physical job, but it is way too many calories for me.
This morning I had 1/2 of a bagel, 1 tablespoon peanut butter and a banana. My creamer is now replace with a splash of low fat milk. This cut my breakfast less than half. I also shake it up, I eat a variety.
I wanted to talk about portion size a bit. I was just as satisfies with half the guilt eating my breakfast this morning. Portion size is a demon I fight regularly. The small plate idea is great, yet it’s amazing how much I can fit on a small plate. Some of you may not have a portion problem. Some people just eat normal amounts but high calorie food.
I’ve always been a big eater. When I started getting really serious about eating healthy last March, I was constantly thinking of ways to extend my meals. Bulk them up. But I’m starting to realize I don’t need those huge portions anymore. My eating habits are evolving. Trust me, I still love big portions, but I’m more aware now. I’ve heard, we only taste and enjoy the first 2 or 3 bites. I believe for me this is true. I try to be mindful of this when I’m putting food on my plate.
When I was a kid, we went out with extended family, we always went to a buffet. My favorite one was called The Biltmore. We went there to celebrate a birthday on a Sunday after church. I was an artist at filling my plate with more than it appeared. I would hide that extra piece of ham or roast beef under that large scoop of mashed potatoes. I poured gravy over everything. I never added vegetables, it only took real estate off my plate where those ribs and deep fried chicken could be. It’s really amazing how I craved large portions at such a young age. We would all go home, and the adults would sit in the living room and make small talk and gossip all afternoon with our bellies full. Then about 3 or 4 o’clock, the aroma of coffee would fill the air, and out came the food. Sandwiches made with butter and summer sausage, “sauce”, which was canned peaches or pears served in a little bowl, slices of Swedish Bond Ost cheese nicely arranged on a plate, a relish tray with pickles, pickled herring, and vegetables. A huge bowl of salty potato chips. Then, and always, something sweet. Usually provided by my cousin who was a master at making cookies and bars. Sometimes my mom would pull out the Sarah Lee coconut layer cake out of the freezer. She always kept one in the freezer in case company came. We ate again although we were still stuffed from the feast at noon. It would be considered a travesty for a good hostess not to offer lunch before her company went home. Food was the whole focus of our entertainment. Without food, we would not know what to do with each other. We were a conservative, Swedish, mild mannered family of fundamental Christians. We never drank, smoked, cussed, played cards, or went to movies. We didn’t even drink Coke. Only 7up on Saturday night with our popcorn after we bathed and put brush rollers in our hair for church the next morning. We loved each other, yet didn’t know what to do with each other. So we ate, and showed our love and hospitality feeding each other. And I ate, it kept me from being bored, made me feel loved, and numbed any feelings of insecurity. The more food the more love. This is how I was programmed. Then on Monday, I would rush home after school to finish off the leftovers. I was a latch key kid, both my parents worked, so I am sure a lot of my after school eating was a substitute for loneliness.
All of this became a big habit as an adult. But it became bondage, after the huge amount of weight piled on. All those feelings as a child that caused me to numb my feelings with food, became a knee jerk reaction to any empty feeling, anxiety or just boredom. I’m breaking that habit. Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks. I’m learning how to feel my emotions. Huge amounts of food, just doesn’t serve the purpose it use to, It is now just a very old habit. And I’m breaking it.