Shrink Serving Sizes

Posted on November 8, 2010  Comments (3)

Helping Wally Eat Less

When I was a boy, we were admonished to “clean your plate” because “children are starving.” Many of my friends’ mothers were concerned about the children in China. Since my father had organized food relief to German families after WW II, we cleaned our plates for the children “in Europe.” My friend Larry’s family ate their bit for African children.

Now that I am a full-grown man, this conditioning should be easy to overcome, but it isn’t. Normally I have great willpower and discipline. Alas, that’s not true when it comes to eating my wife’s cooking. Put that great food on my plate and will be gone soon.

I’ve tried “eat less” goals. They don’t work. Delicious food appears on my plate, served by my wife’s loving hands. Somewhere in my subconscious my mother is whispering, “Children are starving in Europe.” My willpower is no match.

What to do? Clearly, admonishing myself to “eat less” does not work. In fact, it’s a recipe (pardon the pun) for frustration. You may have situations like that. You or one of your team members or someone you love has a problem. It seems like willpower or goal setting will solve it. But somehow it never does.

The other part of the systems solution is simplicity itself. Serve Wally using smaller bowls and plates. The plate is full, but there’s less food on it. I can eat everything on my plate to the betterment of those European children and my waistline.

Smaller serving sizes is a good idea. Increasing serving sizes over the last few decades is one of the big problems in the USA’s obesity epidemic. From a problem solving approach another good idea is to look beyond the problem at the larger system (the smaller serving size is a great system solution that is inside the eating problem). In this case for some people a way to deal with an eating problem is to exercise more. By changing the overall system a problem of eating too much can sometimes be changed into not a problem (due to a change outside the system).

Related: Study Shows Weight Loss From Calorie Reduction Not Low Fat or Low CarbStudy Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as SmokingEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

3 Responses to “Shrink Serving Sizes”

  1. Rock Kitaro
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

    This is actually a really insightful article. I was just browsing through top blog sites, and reading this article, “Clean your plate” I wonder if that’s why I’m that way. Like whatever’s there, even though I’m full, I’d still keep eating. Now when I have kids, and my child says he’s full, wisely, I’ll wrap it up and tell him it’s tomorrow’s lunch.

  2. FrauTech
    November 9th, 2010 @ 8:35 pm

    I like it, and that guy’s post and how it relates to employees is pretty interesting. I find it funny how many people think it’s just the willpower side of things. “Well if you just ate less” or “well if you just started working out” like it’s that easy. If we could will ourselves to be better eaters, exercisers, employees, engineers, writers…but it’s generally not that easy. It’s more about finding the space to fit the change into your life, making it a routine rather than focusing on the “thinking” aspect of it. America wouldn’t have an obesity problem if we could think our way out of it, or if it was relatively easy to do. I keep thinking about how they are reducing P.E. every year as well. When my parents went to school, every year through the end of high school, including recreation classes required in college. When I was a kid was two years in high school, and none in college. Now I hear the gradeschools cutting back on time for P.E., or make it every other day, or getting rid of recess. Seems so much easier to fix than something like say, science education.

  3. Will
    November 22nd, 2010 @ 12:58 am

    I have found that although exercise is important for good health, to lose weight you must eat less. Exercise, unless taken to the extreme seems to have little effect on weight without accompanying calorie reduction. Combining the two is the sure ticket.

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