In the name of teaching them etiquette, first-year cadets at West Point, known as “plebes”, learn and practice an elaborate set of rules for how they must act and eat at meals.
One of the more annoying rules is a practice that could help us slow down and not gobble our chow. Remember, when we eat slower, we eat less. And when we eat less, we get slimmer and feel sharper.
Plebes must sit rigidly on the edge of their chairs with eyes focused only on the academy crest at the top of their plate. They cannot speak unless spoken to or in the performance of ritualistic “duties”, like cutting desserts into geometrically precise pieces. It’s a humorously annoying tradition that has been a right of passage for hundreds of classes. Like many such things, it kind of sucks when you’re subjected to it but then becomes a source of hilarious stories later.
That sort of sets the stage for us, but none of that is helpful. Instead, the thing they do that is quite helpful is that they must cut their food into tiny pieces, no larger than a dime. Then, they put their fork down and place their hands in their lap while they chew the minuscule morsel. Only after they’ve swallowed are they permitted to pick up their utensils and cut another dime-sized piece. It is an irritatingly grueling regimen, especially for ravenous 18 year-olds who are burning several thousand calories each day and who are watching the upperclassmen at their table snarfle up their chow like powerful Hoover vacuums.
Annoying though it may be, it is effective. Cutting our food into smaller pieces and then putting down our utensils between bites slows us down dramatically. This works for burgers or sandwiches too. Just take a smaller bite and then put down the burger while you chew.
The same approach can help moderate our alcohol consumption too. Take a swig, then put the glass down.
I challenge you to give it a try at your next meal. It’s hard, especially when we’re hungry. But, it’s precisely then that we most need a mealtime ritual like this to keep us from hoovering up our chow faster than we can taste it.
Once more… slower equals slimmer.
When I check back in later this week, I’ll share a little trick I’ve adopted to boost my consistency in doing hard things. It’s appealingly simple and addictive.
Until then, let me know how you enjoy eating like a plebe.😉
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PS – When you get to the point where you’re fed up with repeated struggles to get any traction with your nutrition, please schedule some time with us. And, take heart. You’re not alone. Yeah, we all know WHAT we should eat. But, just knowing ain’t getting the job done, clearly – two-thirds of Americans are obese or overweight, and 90% of people who diet just gain it all back again, plus some. We’ll help you establish simple but effective daily behaviors that will change HOW you eat and help you sustain your progress.