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"Clean your plate" is one of the most ubiquitous dinnertime catchphrases heard in the Western world, but if you're trying to keep off the pounds, it might help to unlearn what you have learned.

Writing for Psychology Today, Marty Nemko suggests that we stop looking at our plates as challenges to be overcome:

6. Do you suffer from the "finish your plate" syndrome? I will finish what's on my plate even when I'm quite full. That's not because my mother told me "People are starving in Africa." It's, unconsciously, because I think of finishing my plate as a task to be completed, and I don't like to keep tasks uncompleted. Also, I don't like to waste things. Both reasonings are stupid. For example, it's better that those extra 500 calories get saved for the next meal or even thrown out than to make myself fatter. But that irrational thinking is alive and well within me and perhaps you.

Possible solution: Perhaps I (and you?) can quell that tendency by staying aware of it.


Besides, it's not like starving people directly get to eat more when you don't.

Nemko offers a lot of other good ideas for people trying to manage their diet, like being aware of your rationalizations, eating more slowly, and recognizing the triggers that make you more likely to eat. Check out the whole article here.

Image by Sean MacEntee

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