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vjoliv0's picture Vanessa Oliver, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian
College or Department
Lancaster Aquatics Center, room 170
Email Address

Vanessa here. Karen and I both like to bake. Sometimes we're asked for our "favorite" ingredient substitutes for things like butter, sugar, chocolate, and flour. We are often met with some funny looks when we say that we like to use the real things.

We do this because we think it tastes good, sure. But we also choose to cook this way because we have learned that doing otherwise can instill a false dichotomy of "allowed" and "not allowed" foods. If you've gotten trapped in this way of thinking, we urge you to reconsider. Here's why:
We've talked to so many people who identify as being unwanted charter members of the "clean-plate-club", to the extent that they eat to the point of discomfort because they can no longer feel the sensation of fullness. Membership in this club often correlates with a lifetime of chronic dieting. Dieting instills rules: we must eat before this time, only these foods, only these portions, not those foods. If we follow these rules, we will get the results you want. These rules reinforce a clean-your-plate mentality, because we are not respecting our own definitions of fact we're being told that we don't have the ability to know this for ourselves! Over time we start to believe this, lose touch with all of our inner satiety signals and clean our plate when faced with whatever food is acceptable to diet culture - even if we're not hungry. And we don't eat the foods that are *not* acceptable to diet culture -- whatever that is at the moment.

We rationalize this behavior because we are following the rules. So let's break those rules together! Here's how:

  1. Pay attention to your fullness signals. This means unconditional permission to eat. You must believe that you will be able to eat again when you get hungry in order to be able to stop when you are full.
  2. Eat at regular intervals. If you're over-hungry, your need to eat will block out your ability to recognize when you are full.
  3. Remind yourself that you don't have to finish everything on your plate. It's possible that you are taking more than you need because of the above 2 reasons. Tell yourself that you can always choose to eat more if you finish what's on your plate and are still hungry.
  4. Conversely, if you give yourself too little, you'll never be satisfied or full. You don't need "too much", but "too little" won't work.

Let's take the notions of transgression and rule-following off our plates together! Choose the butter and the chocolate!