The skill of “Eating Just Enough” might be the crown jewel of eating skills. It can take the most practice, but it is by far the most worth it. We know that people that have the skill of eating just enough have the best weight loss and weight loss maintenance, the highest well being, and the best and most resilient body image.
Lets say that you were looking at two opposites: On one end, you were doing EJE with pizza. On the other end, you were doing EJE with chicken, rice, and broccoli (the hardest dying stereotype of what you would eat to lose weight). In reality, neither one of those is going to make up the majority of your meals, but they’re really useful to illustrate the spectrum of EJE skill practice.
With Pizza: you probably want to portion it out ahead of time, because you might not be able to trust your stomach to tell you when to stop. You probably have to wait a certain amount of time after eating to be able to see how full and satisfied you are.
With chicken, rice, and broccoli: You can very reliably trust your stomach with when to stop, during the meal.
In between those two poles, you have a million shades of grey. Hopefully many of your meals are some combination of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, with a generous helping of vegetables, and some amazing seasoning or delicious sauce to make it taste wonderful. What’s really great to notice, is that you can set yourself up for any kind of food, at any time, and trust yourself.
With pizza, you might know that you can trust yourself 20-30 minutes after eating, but not during eating. So you portion out a healthy amount, eat it, and then go do something else, until after that time.
Would someone really have two or three slices of pizza, with a salad, and then stop? They will if they build the skill to.
Part of it is just accepting that, with a food like pizza, you are going to want far more than you need. The amazing thing, is that if you give yourself a normal, healthy, one person portion, you can eat that and stop. Stopping requires three and a half simple skills:
Georgie came up with the best analogy for how portion size and eating just enough work together — that it’s like buying shoes. When you buy shoes you don’t try on every shoe, you have a pretty good idea of what the right size is going to be, and you start there. You make your adjustments (a higher size up or down) starting from what’s usually a pretty good place. With food it’s the same way — you want to pay attention to your stomach, but you want to set yourself up with what’s probably pretty good right from go. You can get a little more later if it was too little, or you can stop early if it was too much.
Most things you eat won’t be pizza and they won’t be chicken, rice and broccoli. Most things will be in the middle somewhere.
That means that for most things, you want to use some blend of EJE and portion size. Adjust the blend depending on your situation:
Most diet based food philosophies will tell you that certain foods are “clean” and certain foods are “dirty.” Fortunately, research tells us that not only is that not true, but the level to which you believe in clean and dirty is an extremely effective predictor of weight loss failure.
Let me repeat that: Most people who tell themselves that foods are “clean” and “dirty” will fail at weight maintenance.
Because you are interested in maintaining weight loss for the rest of your life, you practice telling yourself that foods are simply more or less calorically dense, and more or less tasty.
Unbalanced, hyper-delicious, calorically dense foods can totally be part of your weight loss program, but you want to apply a certain amount of portion sizing to them.
On the other hand, foods that are less calorically dense, high fiber, and have a balanced amount of proteins carbohydrates and fats make it much easier to just trust your stomach and eat just enough.
But isn’t it nice knowing you can eat whatever you want and still get results?
You’ve got choices.