I've been thinking a lot about my eating habits lately -- probably because the holiday season is so full of temptation. Here are some guidelines that I've been trying to follow, whether eating in or eating out, with various degrees of fidelity.
1. Wear snug-fitting clothes.
2. Buy food in small containers. Studies show that people give themselves larger portions out of larger boxes, so I don't buy that economy box of whatever.
3. Make tempting food inconvenient. -- Put cookies in a hard-to-reach spot, set the freezer to a very cold temperature so it's hard to spoon out ice cream, store goodies in hard-to-open containers.
4. Order the appetizer size.
5. Use smaller plates, bowls and cutlery. I often use the plastic plates we have left over from when my daughters were young.
6. Dish food up in the kitchen, and don't bring serving platters onto the table (except vegetables).
7. Pile my plate with everything I intend to eat, and don't get seconds once that food is gone. (I can do this with everything except my favorite Thanksgiving food, served every year in my family: sweet potatoes with marshmallows.)
8. Keep serving sizes small: get a small frozen yogurt instead of a large (OK, I would get a medium, not a small, but still); get a single hamburger instead of a double.
9. Skip the add-ons: tell the waiter that I don't want the side of fries, don't add croutons or bacon to my salad. I feel like Sally from "When Harry Met Sally" as I quibble about how my food should be served, but oh well.
10. After dinner, signal myself that "Eating's over:" brush my teeth, clean up the kitchen, turn out the lights.
11. Don't allow myself to get too hungry or too full.
12. Realize that, with some things, I can't have just a little bit. In the abstainer/moderator split, I'm a hard-core abstainer. It's far easier for me to skip cookies, bagels and chocolate than it is to have a sensible portion.
13. Never eat hors d'oeuvres.
14. Don't eat food I don't like, just because it's there. No one cares if I have a serving of asparagus or cranberry sauce.
I've realized that although it seems festive and carefree to indulge in lots of treats, in the end, I feel guilty and overstuffed. Which doesn't make the holiday happier. It's a secret of adulthood: By giving myself limits, I give myself freedom.
* The biggest shopping day of the year is nigh! If you need a gift suggestion, please consider The Happiness Project (can't resist mentioning: No. 1 "New York Times" bestseller).
Read sample chapters.