Lose Weight Gently the Three Bite Way

Orange squash 2When my children were small I used to insist they eat at least three bites of anything they thought they didn’t want to eat at all. My theory was that by my having them do that, they would grow up to eat a broad variety of foods. I was even bold enough to insist that any visiting friends do the same. No one ever seemed to make too much of a fuss over this, nor did I get any bad feedback from my children for doing that either. They did grow up to be adventurous eaters and to enjoy trying new foods.

Some children use food as a kind of bargaining chip or power play. Mine didn’t thank goodness. Nor did I tell them what my mother used to say to me: Eat your (beans, eggs, etc.) there are little children starving in China who would love to have what you have on your plate. I wasn’t allowed to get up from the table until I had finished whatever it was I was supposed to eat. No three bite rule for me! When it was liver, which I hated with a passion, I cut it up in small pieces and swallowed them whole with my milk.

Working with a limited budget, my well-intentioned mother tried her best to make nourishing meals. I did grow up to be healthy, so it must have worked. However when I was eight I became chubby and stayed that way. Like many I have tried a number of different ways to slim down, slenderize, or otherwise lose weight. Some methods were more successful than others. However in my opinion calories in, calories out is the key. Less consumed equals more taken from what is stored in the body:portion control works.

In my search for dietary strategy I came across another very good suggestion. It’s called the Three Bite Rule. You can have three bites of anything highly caloric you want to eat, and you can eat anything highly caloric you wish to as long as those three bites are all you eat. It’s also true that after three bites you really do not get the same taste experience as you do from your first three. This is especially true of anything cold like ice cream, but also of sweet things. The real test though is to be able to put down your fork or spoon after the third bite and count yourself satisfied. When you do this, you’re creating a habit that allow for both pleasure and discipline, an excellent combination.

To be successful with this strategy it is important to allow yourself to really taste whatever you are eating. You can roll it around in your mouth and take your time chewing it slowly and thoroughly. Even liquids can be “chewed.” It is also true that when you eat anything slowly and chew it thoroughly you are satisfied sooner, and that applies to meat, vegetables and grains as well as anything on your three bite list. Taste buds get “tired.” The appetite, however keeps us munching away even when we are not getting the most out of what we are eating. Portion control, as well as the three bite strategy is much more successful if you eat what you put on you plate slowly and with attention.

When Less is More

My mother was born in 1913 in Germany at the outset of World War I. Times were very difficult for German civilians, and there was often little to nothing to eat. She told me members of the family had to stand in line for hours to get simple items like bread and milk. As a result she had a horror of wasting food. I grew up feeling like it was important to have plenty of it on hand and to make sure there was enough for all. I did my best.

Lily and garlic bud067However, with my large family and my small budget I had to make sure everyone got enough and my children still remember how they had to cross off each fruit or cookie on their list whenever they took one. That was how I made sure no one felt cheated. These days with just me and Stephen to feed, I don’t have to ration treats. However, my recent diagnosis of diabetes means I cannot indulge my taste for sweets or for fruit the way I would like.

Now that the local summer fruit is available, this is daunting. Recently I slowly savored the taste of a delicious white peach from our local farm stand. I had peeled and cut up several and mixed them with a few native blueberries and a little almond creamer for Stephen and me to have for dessert. As I ate another spoonful I thought about the special quality of white peaches and the brevity of their season. I realized that eating this locally grown fruit is to be cherished. I took my time tasting this wonderful treat. “Less is truly more,” I said.

Stephen nodded and replied, “like fillet mignon.” I asked him to explain. “Well it is expensive so I don’t have it very often,” he began, “and it’s usually served in smallish portions, so you don’t get as much. I suppose because it is so rich. Then,” he went on after a pause, “there’s the idea that beef of any kind is not as good for me as fish or chicken, and I am aiming for longevity. So less is more, just like your peaches.”

I nodded; together we gathered up the dishes, put them in the sink and went on with our day. I continued to think about less being more. For instance, eating less means more room in the clothes as I lose weight, and because I can’t eat as much sweet fruit as I would like to, the small amount I allow myself becomes even more special. This can be applied to other aspects of life too. For instance we recently had a rare visit with a dear friend we seldom see. We made the most of our short time together and enjoyed every moment.

One theory for losing weight is to eat only three bites of any treat. I have noticed that the first few bites of anything do tend to be the best. Perhaps the tongue gets used to the flavor and no longer notices it. Once when I went to Italy to visit my daughter she gave me a small piece of chocolate candy from a very old and prestigious maker. It was wonderful. Having such a small piece was actually perfect, better than having a large one. We cut it into even smaller pieces and enjoyed them slowly, letting the taste linger on our tongues.

Indulgence Versus Overindulgence by Tasha Halpert

  Stephen plopped another load of catalogs from the postman on the table. “The poor mailman must be tired having to lug all this stuff around,” he said as we prepared to recycle most of them. “I agree,” I said, “And it’s amazing how fast they found us at this address. We’ve only been here a few months and already we’re getting all kinds of stuff from our former address and other places too.” As I glanced at the shiny covers before dropping them into the wastebasket I thought about the catalogs from my childhood.

I remember when the number of catalogs my parents received were few and far between, not the quantities that arrive annually in the mail from October through most of December. For me as a child they were fun to look through and very helpful. My opportunity to shop in actual stores was rare. Young people growing up today have no idea what it might be like to have one car in the family, limits on gasoline, and no malls–only local stores.

Today’s plethora of opportunities for shopping indulgence can easily make for overindulgence. Tempting ads in catalogs, shiny online images of pretty items plus the ease of online shopping–not to mention the heaps of catalogs the postman delivers present would be Santas with a banquet of goods. Credit cards–buy now pay later, make it even easier to spend more than might be wise given one’s resources.

I remember how good I felt a number of years ago when I got my first credit card. Now I didn’t have to wait to buy something; I could have it right away. Prior to this I had to put things I couldn’t afford to pay for immediately on layaway, which meant waiting until the item was paid off to take it home. The opportunities to spend as well as the ease of access to goods makes for a potential for unexpected debt. It is amazing to me how even small purchases add up to a grand total that always seems more than I anticipate.

In addition, while the items in a catalog or online might seem quite wonderful by description, the reality may be quite different. I have all too often been disappointed in the actuality of the gift once it arrived and was opened. This is also true of food from catalogs which often is not nearly as tasty as it appears in the pretty pictures. It is not only easy but also more tempting to be less choosy when one is not putting limits on one’s indulgences.

However, as well as a downside, there is also a good side to this situation. The opportunity to indulge with limits rather than overindulge without them, can present a chance to practice restraint as well as detachment. Life, that marvelous daily Buddha, offers us many opportunities for important spiritual lessons. Reining in the appetite for spending as well as choosing wisely the absolutely perfect single gift can be a marvelous chance for spiritual practice as well as a way to save.

Deb's party food 2