Is it *Really* Worth it?

As the holiday season is upon us, now is a good time to remember that it’s not important to finish everything you take. Before my lifestyle change, I was so conditioned to finish everything that it never occurred to me that I had the option not eating something unless I was just too full to eat what I’d taken. Instead, I’d end up eating something just because I didn’t want to waste it, felt guilty, or sometimes it was because I wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was eating to consider leaving the rest. Since my eyes were always bigger than my stomach, I regularly ate more than I needed.

This all changed when I was on a calorie-restrictive regimen. I gained a much greater appreciation for what was appealing to me and worth eating. I became much choosier about what and how much I ate. In particular, when I was at social events or dining out, I was much more careful about what I opted to put on my plate, because I knew that literally every calorie counted, and I learned to maximize my calories. I learned to start with small samples then return for more of what I really liked.

Lots of cookies!

Lots of cookies!

It was during this time that I came to realize that it was also important to leave something if I didn’t really like it. I remember the day this occurred to me. I used to bake a lot of Christmas cookies (and I mean a lot–the last year I did it, I made 26 different kinds!). I loved trying a wide variety. One year I made some orange flavored cookies. I took a bite of one and realized that while I liked the taste, the cookie was dry. It was at that moment that I realized that, instead of eating something that was less than satisfying, I should just throw it away. GASP! This flew in the face of a lifetime of conditioning, but it’s what I ended up doing. The mere act of doing this helped me to realize that I should only finish what I really like; otherwise I was cheating myself of other good stuff.

Most were really good, but some turned out just okay and were just too 'expensive' to eat.

Most were really good, but some turned out just okay and were just too ‘expensive’ to eat.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge is what to do at social gatherings. I love food (as you know) and parties mean a buffet of food I want to try. However, not every dish on a table will necessarily end up appealing to my taste buds, and that should be okay. Of course, I don’t want to offend the person who prepared it, but I also shouldn’t feel compelled to finish something I don’t really like.

So what’s my strategy? If confronted by a host who made everything, I politely say I really liked X over Y and wanted to have more X, so I wasn’t able to finish Y. If it’s a potluck, I find a way to discretely dispose of it. In the end, I get to eat more of what I really liked but not pack in extra calories from something just to be polite, avoid feeling guilty, or because I wasn’t paying attention.

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