Q&A Can You Be “Delighted” By Small Portion Sizes? | TMOHP Episode 124

Fiona has a great question: “How can I feel delighted with small portion sizes, rather than feeling robbed, disheartened, and treated badly.” Q&A episodes are some of my favorites, because there’s a lot to be learned from a question - and there’s a lot to unpack in this one. In this episode I’m answering Fiona’s question and also tackling some important aspects of making changes to the way that you eat - whether you are adjusting your portions or trying something else. What should you expect when you make a change to your eating? How can you set yourself up to make changes more successful and delightful? What role do your thoughts and beliefs play in positioning yourself to succeed? Whether you want to adjust your portions, cut your sodium intake, or make some other change to the way you eat, this episode has some helpful tips. 

In this episode:

  • Is choosing “small portions” helpful at all?
  • Why any change you make to your eating is going to require an adjustment period.
  • What to pay attention to before you even begin to change portions.
  • How to create more delight - whatever change you’re making to your eating.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz and find out how to start tackling the root of your overeating.
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching for Emotional Eating and Overeating: I have openings in my schedule to work with about twelve women a year and openings are filled as space becomes available. Private coaching meetings are scheduled via Zoom or phone and we can connect from anywhere in the world. Private coaching is customized to you and your goals and we'll work together for a minimum of six months. Learn more and apply here.
  • Visit http://toomuchonherplate.com for more tips and resources to create peace with food and overcome overeating and emotional eating

Episode Transcript

Hi, everybody welcome back to the podcast. Today is a Q and an episode, and it is motivated by a question from Fiona. She sent me an email and she said, "Hi, I've just signed up for your workshop. Here's what I hope to learn. I hope to learn how to feel delighted with small portion sizes rather than feeling robbed, disheartened, and treated badly."

So that's the question today. Can you be delighted with small portion sizes? And I love the second part rather than feeling robbed, disheartened and treated badly. 

One of the reasons that I really like doing these Q& A episodes is because the actual question matters. And answering the actual question is actually very different from just covering the topic.

I am going to keep referring to Fiona's actual question throughout this episode, and I think you'll see what I mean. So, to start with, how to feel delighted with small portion sizes. The thing is, anytime you make a change to your eating, any kind of change, it will take time to adjust. 

Eating is such a habit. Eating is such a personal thing. Eating is such a multi sensory activity. Right? So, right now, for instance, I'm experimenting with adding more protein into my diet. It's not a weight loss trick. It's, it's simply, I have become aware that I don't get what is recommended in terms of the amount of protein that is recommended for people, my size and my age.

And I've gotten kind of curious about. What I'll notice, what will change if I do? I want to try this. What will it be like to add more protein to my diet? Now it's only the early days. This is like day three of trying to do this. And I have to tell you at this point, it feels so tedious and not quite possible. I'm not sure about this. 

I have to eat differently. I have to approach eating differently. That means I'm at this stage where I have to read labels. Right? And really pay attention to how much protein is in this particular thing, and what is the portion size that matches that amount of protein. So I have to pay attention to things, and I have to change things.

Eating is such a habit of familiarity. My routine old way right now, the old way of eating that does not include the recommended amount of protein is much more comfortable at this point. And what I find is the more tedious trying to figure out the new way is, the more I find myself thinking, Oh, that old way of eating isn't so bad. And questioning, do I really want to do this? 

But I do want to do this. That is what is propelling me. What is propelling me, what is keeping me doing this thing that doesn't feel quite comfortable and sometimes really uncomfortable? What's propelling me is being curious about the outcome. And not just curiosity, I actually am interested like, wow, what if I did have more energy?

What if I did have better workouts? What if I did feel stronger? What if some of the things that just feel like growing older are the result of not getting enough protein? I know my why. I know why I am trying to do something that is requiring adjustment. And reminding myself of this right now is really helpful.

So Fiona wants to know, can I be delighted and change my portion size. Right? So the first question I would have for her is, what is your why? What might you create by adjusting portion sizes? And I want you to think beyond I would lose weight. If, if the answer is I would lose weight, why do you want to lose weight? What would happen if you lost weight? What is your why? Why are you playing with portion sizes? 

Usually people are looking for more good feeling, more delight, more joy, more ease, more happiness. More ability to do things. Right? So, spending some time, Fiona, thinking about why are you trying to do this? Because that is going to be helpful to remind yourself of, especially in the early stages. And it's going to be really important to return your focus to. When it feels awkward, or when it feels tedious, or when it feels like more work than the old way. Because guess what? New ways always are more work than the old way in the beginning. So start with what's your why. 

The second thing that really jumped out at me from Fiona's question is the importance of watching your thoughts and getting really aware of what you're reinforcing before you even start making changes. 

And before I show you what I mean by this, I want to be really clear. I am not picking on Fiona. Fiona's question is great because it is such a typical question. And the things I'm sharing with you are typical issues that come up when you try to change your eating. So watch your thoughts and get curious about what you're reinforcing before you even start. 

Fiona says, I hope to learn how to feel delighted with small portion sizes rather than feeling robbed, disheartened, and treated badly. Okay, let's think about the thoughts that you're reinforcing before you even start. Let's start with small portion sizes. I'm going to eat small portions. 

It sounds like from the very beginning, you are thinking, I am going to eat less than a regular portion. I'm going to eat less than. It sounds like a deprivation thought. Now, I'm going to assume that you are not starting out by trying to be delighted by portions that aren't enough for what you really need. Because that doesn't make a lot of sense. Right? 

I'm assuming that you are thinking, Oh, I have to cut my portions and these are going to feel small to me. And so I'm thinking of them as small portions. And how can this ever make me happy? Because the overeating I do is the portion size that feels really good to me. Watch your thoughts and what you're reinforcing before you start. 

So is this a small portion? Is this a different portion? Maybe what you're really doing and maybe a more helpful thought to focus on would be I'm experimenting with different portions. I'm seeing what it's like for my body to adjust to different portions. 

What are the thoughts that you are reinforcing before you even start? Are you telling yourself that this is going to be hard because the larger portions are really enjoyable and feel really great for you? Is that what you're telling yourself? And if you are, is that really true? 

Do the larger portions feel really good? Do they serve you well? And if they do, how long does that good feeling last? And if they do feel really good, and if they are really wonderful, go back to why are you experimenting with changing them? Because that why is going to be an important part of your thoughts that you want to reinforce. Right? 

So consider, and we're playing with this without being able to talk to Fiona, but consider what is dissatisfying about the bigger portions. Why do you want to make a change? And pay attention to whether you are encouraging these thoughts. 

Back to my example, I can focus on the fact that there are a lot of protein sources I don't really love, and this feels really hard and awkward right now. And I discovered yesterday that one of the things I like to eat for lunch does not have nearly enough protein if I want to make my goal. I could focus on all of those things and it is not helpful. 

Those are thoughts that I could choose to reinforce before I even start eating anything that are not going to help me with my experiment. And I can do that if I want to. But I have a why, I have a reason that I want to do this. And so what are the thoughts I want to focus on? 

One of them that is helping me right now is this is just an experiment. I am not committing to changing my eating forever. I am not committing to changing my eating in a specific way. Like I will eat this every day for lunch forever. I'm experimenting. And unless I do the experiment, I will never know if it feels different. 

So Fiona, one of the ways that you could start to play with thoughts and beliefs that will open the possibility for delight is to remind yourself why you're doing this and also remind your brain of the reality that maybe this is an experiment.

And whatever it is that is the outcome you're seeking or you're dreaming of, or that you really, really, really want, you are not going to know if that's possible or what that will feel like, unless you give yourself the room to do the experiment. There is a value in this. Right? 

And I would really home in on that word, small. How can I be delighted with small portions? How can I start to change my idea of what the appropriate portion for me is? Might be a thought to experiment with. Is this portion that looks small, really small if I experiment with eating that amount for a week? Might be a thought to experiment with. Another thought to experiment with might be I am playing around so that I can figure out what the right amount is for me to eat. That will feel good inside my body and that will help me accomplish my goal. 

Words matter. Thoughts and beliefs matter. And all of this stuff is especially important at the beginning of trying to make a change. And I think particularly in the beginning of trying to make a change with something that is so routine and habitual and personal, like eating and food choices. And how we experience our meals and our snacks and the things that we put into our body. All right? 

So, back to portion size. Fiona, I think it's important to be clear, or to clarify anyway, how you are deciding the portion size. If you're telling yourself it's a small portion size, what makes it a small portion size? What aims your thoughts at the idea that it is small? And what if you played with that? Like I said before, what if you were aiming to find a portion size that delights you? 

Instead of how can I be delighted with small portion sizes, what if I am aiming to find a portion size that delights me in multiple ways? I will tell you, I am not looking at my goal of eating more protein as how can I get really strong so I can eat more protein. I'm looking at this plan as what would it be like to incorporate more protein? And can I find ways to do that, that feel easy and that taste good and that work for me. Right? 

So what if you were aiming to find a portion size that delights you in multiple ways? In how you feel, in the results that it brings you, in the nourishment and the pleasure that it provides. 

What if instead of telling yourself that you were choosing small portions, What if you tried thinking of yourself like Goldilocks in Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Right? What if you were experimenting with being Goldilocks and figuring out what's not too small, what's not too big, but what's the right portion for you?

Could you find more delight if that was how you were framing this experiment or this journey that you are on with food? 

Here's another way to maximize your delight when you are changing portion sizes. Ask yourself why you are eating. I know that may sound like such a basic question, but what is the experience that you want to create by eating? How do you want to feel by having eaten? How do you want to feel while you eat? What does delight look like? When you imagine yourself feeling delighted with these new portion sizes, what does that look like? What is that experience? And how can you do more of this? 

Eating is actually an amazing experience that uses all of our senses. And when we tune into all of our senses, eating can be such a rich experience. So really ask yourself, create a picture in your mind. What does delight look like? And how can I have more of that? And then go back to that thought thing that we talked about, the thoughts that you're focusing on. What am I telling myself might not be possible about delight with smaller portions? And is that really true? How can I create more of an experience of delight? 

I will tell you the next tip that I have is one way to do that and that is to slow down. I think this is really important with any new habit that you're trying to put in place with food, with overeating, you know, breaking that cycle of overeating or emotional eating.

Give yourself permission to slow down and to be present. Eating is something that taps into all of our senses. But if we're not paying attention, if we're not present, if we're rushing, if we're multitasking, it is impossible to savor. And I would say it's pretty hard to have delight if you're not present. If you are not tasting and smelling and noticing the texture, if you're not savoring. 

We know that when people slow down and eat a mindful meal, they enjoy it more. And they're satisfied with less. So right there, that's a key piece to play with. If what you're trying to do is eat portions that are smaller and feel delight and enjoyment. Right?

So slowing down gives you an opportunity to savor. To experience all of your senses and what is happening with the food as, as it's going into your body. But it also gives your body time to experience the food. It gives your body time to recognize cues like, Oh, I'm getting full here, or maybe this is enough.

So often we eat fast or you eat while you're multitasking and it's very easy to eat past that point of fullness. Because you haven't given yourself enough time and you haven't been present enough to notice that that is really happening. 

The third piece about slowing down is more global. And that is, to go back to where I started, that anytime you change your eating, it is going to take time to adjust.

This is a fact. It does not mean that you are doing it wrong, or you don't have the right attitude, or you're focusing on the wrong thoughts. Adjusting, making changes, these things take time to get comfortable with. 

So, we know that, for instance, if you have a goal of increasing your fiber, you might feel bloated at first. You might feel uncomfortable. Your GI system may take some time to learn how to process that differently. It doesn't mean that increasing your fiber is a bad thing. It means that your body is used to digesting different materials. Right? 

If you decide to cut your sodium, you want to cut back on your salt. It is quite likely that your food is going to taste bland at first. That doesn't mean that you can't find delight in eating a diet that's lower in sodium. But it is going to take time for your body to adjust. Your taste buds are at one baseline. They're used to one kind of flavor. When you cut the salt, it misses the flavor, but then your taste buds adjust. And about a week later, some of the foods that used to taste just right might taste very, very salty if you tried them. 

The same is true if you experiment with giving up sugar or with giving up carbs. Your body and your taste buds take time to adjust. And your body also takes time to adjust to the volume of food that you eat.

So if you decide to experiment with eating less food, your body is set up physiologically in terms of the enzymes it releases, in terms of the way it works, your body is set up, prepared to receive more food. And it's going to take one to two weeks to get used to the feeling of eating less. That's just a fact.

Bodies need time to adjust to changes in your eating. And if you're going to adjust your portion sizes, you are going to be more primed for success if you start with the reality that, okay, I know why I'm doing this. This is important to me. I know it's going to be an adjustment. I know that my body is going to need to adjust to this and I won't necessarily be able to know the final outcome of what this feels like unless I give myself one to two weeks to see what it's like to play with these portions.

And oh, by the way, this isn't all or nothing. I might find, I'll probably find that this is also a process of adjusting portions throughout the day. That I might need a little bit more in the mid-morning and then maybe I find out that I was eating more than I really needed at lunch. But maybe I need a snack before dinner or, I mean, I'm making this up its going to be different for you and for your body. But it's going to take time for your body physically to get used to the change and for you to make the adjustments as you pay attention to the changes that you're making. And get a firm handle on what works and what doesn't work for you. 

So can you change your portion sizes? Absolutely. Can you find happiness and delight and even joy in changing your portion sizes and eating less? Absolutely. I see it all the time. And it doesn't happen with a snap of your fingers. It doesn't happen in one meal. Your body takes time to adjust. Your mind takes time to adjust. You may need to adjust your thoughts and your beliefs and play around with what it is that is motivating you.

But absolutely you can feel delighted rather than feeling robbed, disheartened, and treated badly. 

I hope this helps, and I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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