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Daily Archives: March 1, 2014

Overeating and Clearing One’s Plate vs. Rigorous Honesty… A Takedown

Caution:  This is one of those no gibberish posts.  If you want someone to lie so you can feel good about yourself, try heading down to the local donut shop to see if they can help you out.

I read a post this morning that really got me thinking…  The post in question was written by a child and there is a chance that the statement I’m about to highlight is more literary flourish than reality, but I’ve heard this before so I figured that I would refrain from linking the post simply to protect those involved in the event the child wasn’t quite clear on the intention of the statement while still dealing with the topic.

That said, the topic I’m about to take on will be a difficult one because it will deal with standard excuses people use to justify overeating.  The same discussion about excuses is instrumental in recovering from alcoholism – and believe me, I’ve had to embrace the uncomfortable reality that I used some seriously stupid excuses to stay drunk.  The background is this:  As alcoholics, we build a construct in our head – excuses to shut down prying conversation into why we act the way we do for the sole purpose of preserving the ability to continue.  Recovery, actually putting the cork in the jug for good, one day at a time, demands rigorous honesty with oneself.  Translated into normal English, we who choose to be exdrunks have to refrain from bullshitting ourselves with the excuses used to justify our overindulgence.

How many times have you heard someone say that they have to clear their plate of what they put on it because of some lesson learned as a child?

For a kid, the idea, even the lesson, makes sense:  Kids have a tendency to overfill their plate with foods they like or the reverse for foods they don’t care for.  When they become full and attempt to push away from the table, they’re told things like “there are starving kids in Ethiopia…”  What ends up being reinforced is this:  If you overfill your plate, you must overeat to avoid wasting food because Ethiopians, even though there’s no chance of putting the leftover food in a plastic bag and shipping it to Ethiopia, would be grateful to have that food.  Over time this lesson, given the right type of person, morphs into a need to clean one’s plate as an adult – or so they say.

There are several well intentioned purposes for the “clean your plate” discussion.  Healthy kids can be notoriously skinny when they’re young.  In order to bulk their kid up a little, a parent may advise to eat more than what is comfortable – rather than advising to eat more often.  Maybe a parent wants the over-filling of the plate to stop so in many cases the desired emphasis is on overeating rather than refraining from putting so much food on the plate.  The idea is that overeating is uncomfortable (to most people), therefore the youngster in question will choose to put less on their plate rather than risk feeling uncomfortable again.  This works in most people.  Unfortunately, in a minority, the kids learn to overstuff themselves rather than to knock off a bad behavior – they take the lesson opposite that was intended and chaos ensues.

I’m here to tell you that might work as an excuse for a kid, as an adult the notion that one must overeat, that one must pass comfortably full to clear one’s plate, is a bullshit excuse.  It’s complete and utter poppycock, plain and simple.  If one wishes to recover from overeating, getting to a place where the excuse can be seen for what it is, demands rigorous honesty.  If you lack this honesty you will (continue to) fail.

The truth is, nobody is required to act in a self-destructive manner.  Nobody has to clear more food from their plate than is necessary to fill one up.  There is no requirement and certainly no shame in emptying some food into the trash bin because you made the simple mistake of putting too much food on your plate.  In fact, if I were overweight, I would suggest that the bigger shame would be that I didn’t throw away extra food.

In short, the “clean your plate” excuse is no good.  In fact, what using the excuse does say about the person who uses it as an adult:  You simply lack the ability estimate accurately the amount of food your body requires when you are putting food on your plate.  Maybe try shooting for the low side next time, eh?  You know, if you’re so concerned about hungry Ethiopian kids and all.

That last point is the key to discovery and understanding:  Ever notice that it’s always an over estimation – too much food on the plate?  Well if you were such a bad estimator you’d fall on the low side every once in a while.  Stop telling yourself lies – you’re the only one who believes them.  Everyone else is just avoiding the confrontation of having to call you on it.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness…

I read a cool post just a few minutes ago that had one of those e-cards that said:

Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy running shoes and that’s pretty close…

Well that obviously works for cycling!

Money can’t buy happiness, but it did buy this:

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And this:

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And this:

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And believe me, they do make me very happy!