From skwigg's journal:
(Note: I don't do this anymore. I find it unnecessary. I eat until I'm totally satisfied and then I stop, but before I had the ability to recognize satisfaction, this was extremely helpful.)
I don't consider pre deciding to be training wheels. It's more like the key to lifetime food peace for me. Every day, every meal, I decide what and how much I intend to eat while serving myself and in the moments before taking the first bite. If you look at some of my food photos, I often collect the whole meal on my countertop including beverage and dessert so that I see everything together. If I don't literally do that, I'm doing it in my mind. So, for taco night, I know that I'm having two tacos, a big handful of tortilla chips with salsa and guac, about half an inch off of the top of a pint of Chocolate Peanut Butter Hagen Dazs, and one Peanut Butter Slutty Brownie. Or something like that. There's no scenario where I'm eating five tacos, the rest of the bag of chips, or all the ice cream. That's not what I want. I've already decided. There's so much freedom in that! Zero willpower, debate, or struggle. I can relax because I know I'm going to thoroughly enjoy all the tasty foods I've chosen and that I'll feel good afterward.
If I start eating with endless options and a completely open-ended stopping point, then talk about decision fatigue! I experience the discomfort of trying to decide in the moment how much to have. I don't know when to stop. I may not want the meal to end so I find myself bargaining for more or mindlessly adding foods I don't really care about or want. Afterward, it feels like, "What the hell just happened?" I don't enjoy that at all so I basically never do it. Even if I decide to eat weirdly or eat a lot, I've decided. I know what and how much I intend to have before I start.
Restaurants are somewhat different because I'm not choosing my portion and they're often huge. I'll still have a general game plan before I start eating and take one of Georgie's "half times" partway through the meal to pause and assess if I want to continue. If I do, it's at that point I'll decide what else to eat and when to stop, often with the intention of saving room for dessert. :-)
From skwigg's journal:
"The predeciding has never made much sense to me. I've tried it multiple times at different times over this happy eaters journey. I'd love to do it but it always feels like a rule. At the end of a meal I often want more. But maybe that's the issue? Maybe because the no snacks thing is so important to me I like to make sure I'm eating enough? I don't know, and I'm still not sure where my hang up is with the predeciding. But, I think I would like to try it because I do make a habit of going back for seconds/other snacks as part of my meal.
Was the predeciding habit easy to start for you?"
You are onto something big with the idea of a difference between a rule and a decision. If you decide that you're going to turn off the computer and go to sleep, you just do. There's no further debate because it's what you want. If you tell yourself you "should" or "have to" or "wish you wanted to" turn off the computer and go to sleep, you'll be staring at YouTube and Netflix for the next hour or three as you continue to bargain about it.
So doing what you truly want is a critical part of pre-deciding. If you know you like to have a first and second helping instead of putting Food Mountain on your plate initially, and you know you like to have something separate and snacky right after a meal, pre-decide to do that! Choose what and how much. Consider that an important part of the meal and do it with no guilt or hesitation. That's deciding. It will feel very different from a rule where you're basically telling your brain "no more" at what it would consider an incomplete dining experience.
Once I understood the difference between deciding and making a rule, yes, pre-deciding became very easy! I decide to eat the whole pizza, or order dessert, or have 3 pieces of bread, or to eat two cookies and a handful of M&Ms after dinner. Those things don't just happen to me in a guilty unfortunate way where I'm telling myself I'm wrong and need to do better. I own it! That is SO empowering that when I pre-decide to stop after the M&Ms, I can own that too. I've had plenty of practice. It's almost like you have to own the eating to own the stopping. If (maybe out of habit) everything you eat feels questionable and maybe wrong, that feeling of anxiety and insecurity bleeds over into stopping the meal too. You find yourself with mixed feelings at all stages of the process.
From skwigg's journal:
"I'm curious, do you feel you used to, or still do, pre-decide "wrong" sometimes?"
These days I tend to err on the side of too much if I've pre-decided wrong. I'm totally over the impulse to underfeed myself. If I serve too much and I don't want it all, I don't eat it. That happened with lasagna the other night. I served myself a piece the size of a dinner plate. LOL Partway through it I was like, OMG, there's no way! I saved the rest for lunch the next day.
Hypothetically, if I did serve myself too little, I would either eat again sooner, like in three hours instead of six. Or I would go back for more but make a new plan for that. So, maybe I'd decide to have another serving spoon of casserole, or an apple with peanut butter, or another piece of bread. I've still decided what and how much before I start eating again. So, it's not open-ended where I just keep adding things. Unless I've decided that I'm going to go on a grazefest where I keep sampling things until I'm very full. Sometimes I do that and enjoy it, but not very often. I almost have to be stressed or hormonal for that to sound like an awesome idea. :-) In any case, there's no guilt or regret afterward, because I own my decision.
(It''s funny for me to read this because now I often do eat randomly until I'm full, and it works just great.)