05/06/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What If We Changed the Question

A few years ago (more than I'd care to admit) I went to a parenting conference that challenged the attending moms and dads to ask ourselves, "How young can my child be and still handle a task well?" rather than "How old does my child need to be?" An example they gave was doing their own laundry. "If you carefully go over the steps of proper laundry care, it's amazing how young your son or daughter can be and care for their own laundry," they said. It made sense to me. So upon returning home, I immediately gathered 5th grade Aleeta and 3rd grade Adam into our laundry area and carefully went over the steps with them. I explained how to sort and prep, run the washer and dryer and fold so the clothes were crisp and needed very little ironing. I showed them how to read a laundry care label and bought each of them their own hampers. The amazing thing was, they got it! Not only did the piles in my room go down, the piles in theirs did, too! Once they became responsible for washing their own clothes, they realized a pair of jeans could indeed be worn for more than a few hours - they saw that it really was easier to fold an item and put it away than it was to throw it in the laundry basket. Mission accomplished. I was pretty excited; what else could I get them doing?

Now that I've given moms everywhere hope, I have a confession to make. About a year later my husband was watching Adam do his laundry and happened to notice that he added the Downy fabric softener before shutting the lid of the washing machine. "What about the laundry detergent?" Mark asked. "What do you mean?" Adam answered. "I just put it in." "No you didn't. You added fabric softener, not soap." Mark said. The two of them looked at each other as the truth dawned on them. For a year Adam had been doing laundry without any soap. Adam did start using detergent from that day on, but I figure it just goes to show you how overrated soap is.

So what does this have to do with weight loss? Well nothing ... and everything. Sometimes a slight change of perspective can result in big changes in our lives. Are we asking ourselves the right questions?

Here's the question that changed the way I looked at "dieting" ... Instead of asking myself, "How MUCH food I can get in each day on my weight loss program?" I started asking, "How LITTLE food can I eat and still be satisfied?"

Does that scare you? Those who know me, know that I'm all about quantity in eating. At 350 pounds I used to consume (and mentally needed) a large quantity of food to stay on my program. My recipes reflect that. Eating more for less is not a bad thing. BUT as I started getting into it and losing my weight, I realized I needed to work on a change of perspective in order to mentally become the person I wanted to be. One of my goals was to NOT CARE as much about the quantity of food I was getting.

As soon as I changed the question around in my mind, I was often surprised at the answer. Once I started asking myself if I could still BE SATISFIED with less food, sometimes the answer was YES! [And just to be clear, I'm not advocating eating an unhealthy too FEW amount of calories. This is about combating headhunger, not UNDEReating.]

What are your goals anyway? The next time you want to eat something 'just because it's time' or 'just because you have the calories left,' the next time you're tempted to eat a second portion when you're not hungry or throw in an extra ounce of cheese you haven't planned, try asking yourself the question that changed my perspective, and see if it makes a difference in your life, too.

So ... "How LITTLE food can YOU eat and still be satisfied?"