How to Avoid Second Helpings
Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD
Sometimes when I'm eating meals with other people, I'll notice someone who seems to enjoy the second helping of food almost more than the first. It's almost as if they rush through the first plateful with the sole purpose of going back to pile it on all over again. I'm not sure what this stems from. Maybe they grew up in a large family and had to grab their food before someone else did. Or maybe, since they've started to fill up a little bit, they eat more slowly the second time around and enjoy it more. But when a double dose of calories is at stake, taking second helpings might be a habit worth breaking. It might help to pretend you're in a restaurant, where with few exceptions, there are no refills. If that doesn't work, here are some tips that help you avoid that extra helping without a second thought.
- Avoid serving food at the table family style. When the serving dishes are there in front of you, you're much more likely to grab "just a little bit more", and those extra spoonfuls can really add up. Instead, dish out portions in the kitchen. That way, even if you are tempted to grab another plateful, you'll have to get out of your chair first, which might make you stop and think twice.
- Put away the extra food right away. After everyone's been served, set aside a portion for the next day's lunch or stash leftovers in the freezer.
- Eat in courses. For one thing, it will slow you down and help you savor your food and help you enjoy your meal from the first bite to the last. If you have your salad or vegetable first, you'll start to fill up on relatively few calories, and then you can move to your entrée.
- Focus on the food - Meals are more satisfying when they're enjoyable, which involves more than just the food itself. So put on some music, set the table, and make your meal attractive to look at. Try not working, watching TV or surfing the net while you're eating. When you're doing other things, you're hardly focusing on your food and the meal won't be as satisfying.
- Some people try to beat the problem by dishing up only half their usual portion, so they can still go back for seconds without overeating. If you're really diligent, this might work – but you aren't really breaking the habit since you're still going back for seconds. And while you might be careful to cut your portions in half at first, chances are pretty good that they'll creep back up to their former size and you'll be right back where you started.