Throwback to nearly 10 years ago when I joined college. I was living, for the first time ever, in a hostel. This however, was no ordinary hostel. This was not a hostel where you could chill, drink with your buddies and chat all night long. It was not a hostel where you could spend all your time studying either – there were certain activities from 7-8 pm that you compulsorily had to attend. This was not even the hostel where you could call up your family in case you got home-sick. Phones were not allowed. This was a very strict hostel and rules were there to be followed.
One of the rules, as I discovered on my very first day when I was made to eat two spoonfuls of poisonously sweet jams, was that you simply could not waste food. The rule in itself was not bad. It actually made a lot of sense. Lots of kids were likely to take a lot of food and after discovering that it was inedible (as it always was) waste it. It was of course a better habit to take less and later if you discovered you wanted to eat more, get a second helping.
This rule actually did a lot more for me that it seemed on the surface initially. The habit repeated over the course of 4 years became a lifelong one. To this day I cannot leave any food on my plate without feeling excessively guilty about. I feel guilty irrespective of the fact that the food was uncooked, expired or that I am too full to eat. And so, I eat until my plate is clean. This habit combined with my politeness, I now realise has got me into a lot of trouble.
When I go to anyone’s home and they offer me a second helping of anything, I say no. Then they insist and to be polite I accept. After having accepted, do I polish the food off my plate? You bet. Does this prompt them to offer me another helping? You bet. You see where this is going?
When I go to a restaurant and order something new, do you think I finish it even though it is the worst thing I have ever eaten? When the portion sizes are too big, do you think there is anything leftover on my plate? You see where this is going?
When I go to Starbucks and order almond milk coffee and they instead get me too sugary regular milk coffee, do you think I finish it?You see where this is going?
To top everything off, do you know exactly when my weight gain problem began? Shockingly, in college.
So, these days I am trying to eat better. I do my best to not get into situations where I have to eat things I don’t want to. I leave food on my plate (and feel guilty about it). I eat at home most of the time and I take smaller portions. If I order a cup of tea and it is bad, I do not drink it.
And while I am doing all of these, I realise that all my friends who do not struggle with weight gain problem have been doing this for ages. They say no to servings when they are full or if it is something they don’t like. They constantly leave food on their plates and drinks in their glasses. All this time, I thought it made them rude but when in reality it was just keeping them thin!
PS: I know politeness is not the leading cause of my weight gain problems, but it is a persistent one.