Monday, September 7, 2009

You’re in the Army Now

My dad was in the army in the early 1950s. Many times, when we sat down to dinner as a family (not the norm, actually), he would reminisce about meals in the army base mess hall. Apparently, in every mess hall he had occasion to visit, there was a sign exhorting the G.I.s to "Take all that you want, but eat all that you take." He pretty much lived by this rule, and I heard it so often as a kid, it became embedded in my brain at a cellular level. I may not have been able to take all that I wanted, but I certainly could (and did) eat all that I was served! It was my family's version of the clichéd exhortation to "Clean your plate - there are children starving in Africa who would love to get that food."

Cleaning my plate remains an obsession with me to this day. Coupled with the whole deprivation thing discussed previously, I have a life-threatening complex of eating compulsions. On one hand, I over-serve myself to avoid feeling deprived, but then I can't stop eating until my plate is clean. I am embarrassed to confess that at times too numerous to count, I have forced myself to continue eating long after I was uncomfortably full or even nauseous.

With that in mind, I am basking in a small victory from dinner this evening. I was successful in giving myself permission to eat two ears of corn and then only cooking and eating one. Also, I gave myself permission to eat a couple of small poultry brats, but I was able to forego the hotdog buns I also gave myself permission to eat. I am still thinking about the corn, but I keep reassuring myself that it's okay to go cook and eat another ear if I want. So far, the permission is enough all by itself.

So I will continue to try to control my portion sizes by giving myself permission to eat more. As long as that is working, eating all that I take is something I can live with.


  1. The phrase in my house was: "You eat what's put before you!" (with the implicit tag line... "because I said so). So, I learned to clean my plate and have even been known to lick it, especially, the ice cream bowl that had 3 scoops in it. I have tried to leave food on my plate, but haven't been successful. But using smaller plates HAS worked.
    I've lost 10 lbs since the beginning of August and getting close to getting over the 1XX hump I've been on for 2 years now! Yeah me!

  2. Dear Marsha,
    I have so much admiration for your commitment to get control over your "issues". We all have them, though they may not involve food.
    I think you're great. I think you're funny. And the image I will always have of you is you banging away at a piano with a huge smile on your face (and putting a smile on everyone else's face at the same time).
    Be well, and best wishes--
    John Vitale