Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Starving Children in China

I think every person heard as a child their parent tell them, "Finish your dinner, there are starving children in China who would love to have that food!"  I know I heard that growing up.  Although parents are doing their best to get kids to eat a healthy balanced meal, telling children this has it's negative effects too.  When you are full, you should stop eating...period.  As a child though many times adult sized portions are placed in front of us and we are expected to eat it.

In my family finishing what was on the plate was never a big deal.  Although I did go through the same phase every child does where I didn't want to eat certain things, I rarely heard about "starving children".  In my family we have another problem, one that we still have to this day.  Rather than finishing what's on your plate, you are told to finish what's in the serving dishes.  "There's only one serving of green beans left, someone eat them."  "There isn't room in the fridge for leftovers we need to finish this."  And my personal favorite, "That's not enough food to keep, just finish it!"

Living alone I never had this problem, I always had leftovers because every recipe is designed to feed more than one person.  Since moving back with my parents though this is common.  My family doesn't like leftovers.  I don't know why, but open up my parents fridge and I'm sure you could find some leftovers in there that are a petri dish of penicillin!  Until someone gets ambitious to see what the smell is when you open the fridge door and disposes of the well expired dish the food lingers, alone in the fridge.  No this is not healthy, and I'm sure my mother will yell at me for posting this on a public blog, but the fact is that more leftovers are thrown away at their house than consumed at a later time.  When I was on my own like I said this wasn't a problem, every recipe is intended for more than one!  So I got in the habit of when I dished out my serving of food, I would dish out the rest of the dish into individual containers based off of what the recipe stated it served.  I did this for everything!  Even pre-made food got this treatment.  The first time I opened a bag of salad it was portioned out, goldfish crackers were portioned into their own baggies.  Unless it was going to be used in a bigger recipe such as pasta sauce, or too hard to portion out in advance like peanut butter, it was taken care of the day I came home from the store, and as I portioned out my meal that first day.

I am convinced that by doing that I not only consumed less food, but I tricked my brain.  If there was only what was on my plate available to me, I couldn't have seconds.  If the individual bag of chips was gone I knew I couldn't have just one more chip.  My caloric intake dropped drastically, by about 1500 calories, and I didn't feel any less full at the end of a meal.

I began to notice when I would go home, or would go out to eat that I would eat less automatically.  My body had become used to smaller portions and healthier foods.  Since moving home though, and often not having control over what I eat I have fallen back into old habits.  Finishing off a dish so that there are no leftovers to put in the fridge is a regular part of eating again for me.  I hate this!  It's not that I don't want to stay on track, it just becomes so much more difficult when you are the only person attempting to do so and when you have so little control over the situation.  For a while I was working till 6pm or later and wasn't able to eat till 8pm or so.  My mother would leave some of what she and my father had eaten for dinner for me, or I would run by the fast food restaurant on my way home, because I was so hungry and tired by that hour that making food just wasn't an option.  Had this job remained in my life I would have had to have made a lot of changes to my schedule to make eating at that hour more reasonable for me.  I don't work there anymore, and I am preparing to move where I have no idea what my schedule will be like, but I do know that I'll be alone again so the choices will be all mine.  I'll have no one to blame when I stop for that greasy burger and fries, or when I decide to make a blue box of macaroni and cheese rather than cooking a healthier option.

I'll also have no support system close by to fall back on, I'm going to be doing this all on my own.  As a friend recently told me, "It may be a scary leap, but taking chances is the only way to truly live. Even if it doesn't work out the way you plan you can say you were brave, you took risks, and you did everything you could to live your best life possible. That's the most anyone can hope for."  She's a very wise friend. =)  I'll create a support system, I'll change my life again, I'll find a job, make this work, and never tell my children to finish their dinner because there are starving children somewhere in the world.  (Although I will tell them to eat, lol.)

Change is difficult, and hard, but not impossible.  I changed the way I ate once already, I can do it again.  I changed my exercise habits once, I can do it again.  It might be tiny steps at a time, but you have to learn to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.  Waiting is the most difficult part in all of this.  I know that I have to wait to have total control over my eating habits again, but I do have control over how much I put in my mouth, and always have had.  I will not eat something I am not hungry for just so that there are not leftovers, I won't finish the food on my plate because of starving children in another country, I will only eat what I am hungry for!  Like I said last month, I have a feeling that this is going to be a great year!

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