How to Listen Less to Your Inner Glutton

Yesterday evening, having finished a round of golf, I had a hankering for a particular English delicacy known as mixed meat and chips.

There was a slight issue with my plan, however: the portion sizes they serve up at my local chip shop (where one can buy the aforementioned meal) are formidable, and I’d had a rather substantial lunch. Since I have major issues leaving food on my plate when full (a weakness I am yet to overcome), I could predict the potential outcome:

  1. Buy mixed meat and chips.
  2. Eat until finished (and somewhat nauseous).
  3. Suffer from the effects of overeating for the rest of the evening, and likely into the following morning.

My first thought was simply to employ my standard Portion Reduction Method, but that’s not an entirely watertight approach. In other words, the extra food I didn’t load on my plate would still be in the vicinity, which in my case, gives it a pretty decent chance of getting eaten regardless.

Still keen to avoid the seemingly inevitable outcome of eating way beyond what was strictly necessary, I pondered potential alternatives. A highly controversial idea hit me: why not ask for a smaller portion at the chip shop?

As a concept, this was both alien and controversial to even contemplate. However, I decided to allow the rational side of my brain to take over for a moment and see how this might play out.

I started by telling myself a couple of key things in order to assuage the fears of my inner glutton:

  1. You’re not that hungry. Although your gluttonous side is telling you that you don’t want to miss out, it’s highly likely that whatever portion you go home with, it’ll be enough to satiate you.
  2. If the portion doesn’t fill you up, you can have a decent-sized dessert to make up for it.

I also reminded myself to focus on the positives of my decision; how I’d be proud of myself for ordering less, and how good it would feel to not be bloated after my meal.

That was enough to calm my inner glutton – I had permission to move ahead with my experiment.

I walked into the chip shop, strode confidently to the counter, and asked for a portion of mixed meat and chips – “but can you put a little less in than you normally would?”

The chap behind the counter eyed me for a moment; I imagine suspiciously, wondering what kind of business I had asking for a smaller portion than what was on the menu. (At that point I was asking myself the same question.)

After that brief pause, he appeared to digest my request. To my horror, he then turned to a colleague and said “mixed meat and chips, but extra small”.

Extra small.

Extra small?!

I didn’t say “extra small”. I said “a little less”. I felt there was a clear distinction between the two. One involved my planned outcome – say a 10% reduction in portion size – while the other was a true unknown. At this point, panic set in.

Shortly thereafter, I got a glimpse of what appeared to be a paltry amount of food within the polystyrene box that contained my dinner. I paid and left, somewhat dismayed at the presumably terrible decision I had made.

I didn’t feel much better once I’d got home and unloaded the contents of the box onto a plate. However, I’d gone past the point of no return. Now was the time to stop listening to my brain and see what my stomach would have to say about the situation.

I sat down to eat my meal, and as always, tried my best to be present in the process of eating my food.

Guess what – there was more than enough food. Once I had finished, I was satiated, and didn’t feel in the least bit deprived. Had the extra food been there, I may have eaten it, but it wasn’t, and I didn’t miss it in the slightest.

This story demonstrates just how big a disconnect there can be between your (often negative and almost always habit-driven) thinking, and the reality of how you will experience the food that you eat. My ingrained thinking went to great lengths in an attempt to sabotage what was a perfectly logical decision that left me feeling not in the slightest bit hard done by when all was said and done.

In short, we should all learn to listen less to our inner glutton. He’s almost certainly got nothing of value to say.