Skinny Daily Post


Remember the post from a couple of weeks ago in which I was so proud of myself for putting all the snack stuff away after I’d made myself a serving?

Well, the direct opposite stragegy just landed in my Inbox at work! Corporate sends out a monthly health e-newsletter, and it generally focuses on diet and exercise tips. This month’s tip was to keep the evidence that you’ve snacked out and around so that you can actually SEE that you’ve eaten!

The thinking is, apparently, is that if you see the detritus, you’ll remember, and you won’t go eat anything else.

Raise your hands, now, and BE HONEST! How many of us would see the ‘evidence’ and be triggered into actually eating again because, well, we want to! We liked it, and we want more.

Now, why does one approach work for some and not for others? I don’t pretend to have an answer, but I do have a thought. Many of us are NOT driven by visual cues. We’re driven by something internal. We tend to call it emotional cues, or STRESS. So, maybe, if we put the ‘evidence’ away, we’re not cued to eat until our next emotional stress shows up. Even if it’s two minutes later.

Other people are very visual in all things. And maybe they’re the people who describe themselves as being on the ‘see food’ diet. You’ve heard them: I see food, I eat food. But what do they do if they see empty peanut shells or yogurt containers? Eat more? Or are they the ones who realize that they’ve eaten and then they’re done?

Different strokes for different folks. In the meantime, I’ll keep putting my stuff away. What about you?

16 thoughts on “Leave it out? Put it away?

  1. Karen says:

    I’ll keep putting the stuff away also. I have problems with being “organized” and if I leave it out it just makes things worse all around.

    I’m trying to be more organized about my eating also. The last 12 days I’ve written down ahead of time what I plan to eat for each meal. (This was due to a money crunch, but still a good idea.)
    I found I was eating less than I wrote down, and moved some things from lunch to dinner and deleted some things.

    So – for me – organization is good, and clutter, whether it’s food or other, is not desirable.

  2. shrinkingknitter says:

    I need to put things away, as well. I’m only just now realizing that the stress I experience has nothing to do with external circumstances. My husband works out of town, my children are grown and gone, I don’t have co-workers or even other people around to create stress or offer temptation. But I constantly think about my weight: losing it, planning meals to lose it, measuring food, etc. That endogenous stress is weighing on more than my mind! And for me, out of sight, out of mind helps far more than it hurts.

  3. Allyson says:

    I am having issues eating too many treats and high calorie, low nutrition snacks. I have no idea why I am kinda sitting back and waiting for the good habits to “kick in”. Why? This is not automatic. I have to work at it. I don’t want to go back to where I was (weight wise). I have to put the work in now and stop the slide before it feels insurmountable. Thanks for being here Jane! and letting me vent…

  4. cindy says:

    Hi Jane,
    I am definitely in the “clean up” camp—clean up before I eat the snack, in fact. Otherwise, I am not “done” yet and can keep eating. Once I’ve cleaned up, I am far less likely to take everything out again to make a snack (or meal…).
    If I have the knife out to chop veggies for a snack, I’ll get out a few containers and make up snacks to bring to work. In the last year and a half, I have learned to hate chopping veggies…but I REALLY like having the fresh veggies to nibble on. Having them ready ahead of time makes it more likely that I’ll choose a healthy snack. It is the same with most meals, in fact. I eat best when I have planned ahead. It is when I am left to my own devices that I tend to make bad choices in the moment. I’ve just realized that this is something I’ve made progress with—having containers of prepared food around. It used to be that I would be compelled to eat them. Now, most of the time, if I open the fridge, I see them, but not as a choice. It is work food (packed in the containers for work). I guess I finally have a good habit!
    I saw my doctor Tuesday and got some good news and not so good news… My cholesterol is great, my blood pressure is great (the nurse took it twice to be sure she’d done it correctly!). My doctor suggests another 30 pounds to lose, but to do it over the course of the year. She said these last 30 pounds will be the hardest…that my body will go into “starvation mode” and my metabolism could be effected. This does not sound like fun. Never tell a person with food issues that they will be “starving.” It doesn’t create a warm, fuzzy feeling! More like PANIC!!! But the hardest thing to hear was that I’ll probably never be able to run. My joints have simply suffered too much wear and tear over the years and so now, even after losing 122 pounds, I cannot take up jogging. This is so disappointing. I really wanted to run just one road race…just to say (to myself!) that I could do it. But I don’t want to be a cripple and I don’t want surgery (any sooner than absolutely necessary!), so I guess I am going to listen to her. I just HATE hearing no. So I’ve set my sites on Mount Washington instead. I want to climb it and sleep on top and spend a few days exploring. It is not a road race, but it is a feat and it will be memorable. I climbed it last summer—barely. It nearly did me in, but what a boost to my self-esteem! So to be able to take this one step further is my new goal.
    I know I went a little off topic, Jane, but thanks for listening. And to everyone else out there, I’d love to hear how the last 30-40 pounds come off. Do I really have to “starve?” I hate being hungry, even a little bit!

  5. Fiona says:

    My vote is for putting it away – for sure! I don’t think visual evidence is needed for me to know how much I’ve eaten, the feeling in my stomach and guilty emotions that accompany it are usually more than evidence enough.

    Here’s another little tool I use – for certain “treat” items I break it all up in advance. e.g. a block of chocolate – I break it into bite-sized pieces and keep it in a jar, so I can go to the jar, decide in advance how many pieces to have, take them, close and put the jar away. I get my treat but then also avoid having the entire block of chocolate out in front of me ready for me to consume more than I had planned.

  6. Trixie Belden says:

    My vote is to put it away. First of all, I lived in NYC for 9 years and you can’t leave leftovers sitting out unless you want uninvited creatures in your home. I actually still put open bags of pretzels and such in the refrigerator to make doubly sure no vermin will be attracted to my lair. Second, I don’t need the temptation to eat again. If the bag or box is still out, it’s like I never stopped eating so I think I might as well take another helping!

  7. Barbara says:

    Personally I think the cleaned-up method a better strategy. If it’s out, it’s too obtainable. It’s just the same thought process when they say to clean out your cupboards before you start any healthy diet process. Don’t tempt yourself.

    Cindy, I don’t think your doctor explained things very well. You’re body only goes into starvation mode – no metabolism – if you are not feeding yourself properly or not eating enough calories and not exercising to keep that motor running. The body wants to know you will feed it consistently. You do not have to starve to lose that last 30. It might take longer than the previously weight you’ve lost, but just eat balanced and healthy throughout the day and you should be fine. I’m sorry about the running, but you sound like you have a great backup plan. Great job.

  8. kirsty says:

    There’s also the perfectionist slant. Look at piled evidence of excessive snacking and think “Well, if I have had all *that* I have blown it anyway – so let’s have more….”

  9. Juliette says:

    I’ll put it away. Case in point: I bought a slab of good quality dark chocolate to eat at work after lunch. Just one square savoured slowly. I kept it in the bottom drawer. I would not think about the chocolate until I opened that drawer (which I often have to). And when I see it, I’d have a piece. I moved the chocolate now to the back of the top drawer, which I don’t open as often. Since then I only eat my planned block after lunch. Out of sight, out of mind is a common ‘saying’ because it is true.

  10. vickie says:

    TOTALLY have to put snacks away.. I bought a package of raw cashews for a recipe and somehow the minute I come home i just seem to happen to find them.. I know they are healthy, but………. seeing them in there just triggers that urge to grab a few here and there.As a matter of fact, after posting this, Im going to throw the bag away!!!

  11. Mj says:

    The leave-the-evidence approach might be useful for those who have no other way of REMEMBERING that food (meal OR snack) has passed their lips.

    But for those who journal or record or menu-plan or whatever your personal program calls the act of listing the items/volume ingested, that’s not necessary, is it? We KNOW what we’ve eaten and we don’t need to leave things out.

    In fact, why is it only SNACK foods that are part of the you-ate-this visual? If their premise is valid, why not leave out ALL the packages of all the things we’ve eaten? I can do a pretty good job with a turkey carcass…

    I journal. I plan. And I put things away.

  12. Cathy says:

    Kudos to everyone for putting the snacks AWAY! I too think that is best. Take out your portion and put the bag back. Me personally I don’t even snack, if I do it’s on dates or pistachios occasionally. If I have it in the house, I’ll eat more than is necessary.

    Cindy, CONGRATS on losing 122 lbs.!! I’m sorry you can’t run but you can climb! 🙂 Hang in there with losing the last 30 lbs., your dr. may be correct. It took me 20 months to lose 23 lbs. (that’s “all” I had to lose lol), because I needed to change my eating habits and I’m still learning to maintain this. But it’s doable. Oh, and I never starved nor gave up anything. I say slow and steady wins the race, no pun intended. Don’t give up.

  13. Sheila says:

    At restaurant buffets, you’re supposed get a fresh plate for every fillup. I assumed they were hoping that the piles of dirty dishes on your table would remind you of how much you’ve eaten so that you’ll be too embarrassed to go back for more. Sometimes that works with me, sometimes not. I don’t think it would work so well for easily obtained snack foods at home, where the embarrassment factor would be weaker.

  14. London Slimmer says:

    Years of dieting and weight maintenance seem to have turned me from a put-it-away into a leave-it-out person in one sense. Ive been steadily losing weight – slowly but surely – in what might seem the most counterintuitive way possible, that is eating my evening meals at a vegetarian all-you-can-eat buffet (so ridiculously cheap that it’s not worth cooking at home). They certainly have some high-fat food on offer there – but I have simple rules. I don’t touch anything fried or breaded or salads with mayonnaise, take a helping of brown rice, another helping of stewed tofu and seaweed and fill the rest of my plate with baked vegetables, plain lentils and chickpeas and salads without dressing. For afters I have fruit salad. I have one generous plateful of food (and actually feel pretty full afterwards) but never go back for seconds. I also seem to be able to walk past approximately six ice-cream parlours on the way there and back (I live in Buenos Aires where they are ubiquitous) without feeling tempted to buy any. I’ve been doing this for about 6 months now and it really does seem to work for me. I think part of the strategy has to do with eating in public, part of it has to do with not having to think about food very much and part of it with the fact that all those veggies fill my stomach for very few calories. Perhaps I am a put-it-away person after all, though, as part of the strategy is that the food stays in the restaurant, not in my kitchen!

  15. Deirdre says:

    If I remember the research correctly, they recommended leaving the empty wrappers and dirty dishes out as a evidence of how much had been eaten. They did not recommend leaving packages with food out.

  16. Diamond says:

    i’m about to start the clean-up thing but i’m 14 and bulimic. how can i start without alerting my parents?

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