My bad habit - eating "seconds"

I have a bad habit, one that my mom has told me I have had since childhood. It doesn't really matter how much food is on my plate, I pretty much always want to eat a second portion of food at dinner time. (sometimes a 3rd when I was little). It doesn't matter if the food is something delicious and heavy, or if it is the "healthiest" meal you put in front of me. This habit only pertains to dinner. I never reach for seconds at breakfast or lunch.

I have always known I was like this, but never really thought about maybe that by itself is the problem. Over the past couple of years, I have dabbled in all sorts of methods to try to rewire my brain to eat healthy for good - Whole30 and paleo being the main methods. Going back and forth between the two. Unfortunately, I have noticed when I restrict too much, I can't keep it up and always regain the weight.

I just did 20 days of the January Whole30, when I realized, I still want to eat a 2nd portion, even when i am eating the most boring, basic meal (IE, protein and veggies and nothing else) and not allowing any sugar/grains/dairy etc.

So now my thought process is, could my inability to keep weight off (i yoyo 30 lbs like nobody's business), simply due to the fact that i have this extra portion habit at dinner and nothing else, IE, i don't have to cut out all types of food, if i can just stop over eating at dinner?

If that's the case, does anyone else feel the urge to go back for a 2nd portion, and what are some tips to break this habit?

Sorry for the long post to get to the simple question....

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Replies

  • iowalinda
    iowalinda Posts: 353 Member
    edited January 2018
    Maybe try making less for dinner. When it's gone, it's gone :) Or try making the servings really small, so a couple servings adds up to one regular serving. Another thought is to make large amounts of veggies part of your dinner to fill up on. You might possibly be what is called "a volume eater". There are threads on here that address this. Wishing you all the best :)
  • MikaMojito
    MikaMojito Posts: 680 Member
    Having a second portion is something I love to do and it is NO problem whatsoever. I usually cook for two and I portion out the food onto plates. We eat what's on the plate and then I portion out the rest. The point is: I only make the amount I'm actually "allowed" to eat. Then it doesn't matter if I have it all in one go or if I have seconds. If I cook for two or more meals, I portion out the meals into containers and then I can still have seconds from the portion for that one meal.
  • seska422
    seska422 Posts: 3,218 Member
    edited January 2018
    Portion control is a big key to success for many people. Control isn't just restriction. I actually eat larger portions of low-calorie items than I used to eat.

    My suggestion is that you plan for that second portion. You have a calorie budget and you can spread it out however you wish. If you want to split your meal into two halves, do that.

    ETA: No, you don't have to cut out any type of food. Weight depends upon calorie intake and output.
  • abarriere
    abarriere Posts: 135 Member
    Thanks, y'all! I eat dinner leftovers the next day for lunch. My husband and I usually cook 4 servings for dinner. What happens is we usually eat 1.5 servings at dinner each and then I have my 1 serving for lunch the next day. Sometimes he only eats 1 serving and I still want to go back for my 1/2 portion after. He has zero problem with stopping eating and leaving food on his plate even. We are just wired differently. I want to get to where I just eat the 1 portion and not go back for more, because I am usually not hungry, I just want it.

    I like the idea of putting half in containers right away.

  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,554 Member
    abarriere wrote: »
    I like the idea of putting half in containers right away.

    It keeps me from munching. I cook- and put it all in containers and what's left over is what I have for dinner. It saves me from eating everything- which is important because- well- I'd eat it all if I could- and I need the food for the week.
  • fatvegan88
    fatvegan88 Posts: 71 Member
    Drink a protein shake before dinner or drink lots of water so you won’t feel like having seconds. Or don’t eat stuff that’s tasty enough to want seconds. I never want seconds of broccoli and brown rice... never.
  • abarriere
    abarriere Posts: 135 Member
    The way I see it this is a habit rather than a case of actual hunger, although if you cut out carbs suddenly that may be a factor. Your choice is to either break the habit-which will require willpower if you've been doing this all your life, or to adapt around it. There's nothing wrong with eating two portions while trying to lose weight; you just have to fit around your calorie needs. The important thing is to keep tracking and be honest with the amount you're eating. Calories are all that matters to weight loss at the end of the day.

    A few suggestions:

    1. Bulk out the meal on low calorie options (like veg) or drink plenty of water or low calorie drink with your meal. This will help fill you up so you don't want extra.
    2. Prepare lower calorie recipes or smaller portions so that it's not so much of an issue to eat a second helping
    3. Try asking yourself "am I really hungry?" or "do I really want this?". If the answer is definitely yes, and you can fit it around your calories, there's really no need to deprive yourself .
    4. Consider a 'calorie trade off'. I do this when I'm feeling indulgent to try and keep on an even keel. I create an either/or scenario, eg 'I can have extra garlic bread OR a glass of wine OR dessert'. It helps to see where your priorities are and forces you to consider the satisfaction vs the nutritional value of the food. It also prevents you from depriving yourself completely.
    5. If it's only dinner that poses the problem maybe try and keep other meal calories quite low to counter it? Yoghurts, soups and salads are all good options during the day and will mean you can save calories for your evening meal (this is what I do frequently especially when I'm going out to eat)
    6. Keep busy. Eat your dinner then go straight for a walk, or wash up, or read a book. Find something to distract your brain from the need to go back for that second plate.
    7. Create a 'wait period' between portions (maybe 20-30 minutes?). I used to snack immediately after lunch and now make myself wait until 2 hours later, or not at all. This allows you to get used to distinguishing between hunger and want, although it's worth noting that hunger is totally normal and not something that needs to be satiated immediately. I actually find I enjoy food more if I don't snack between meals.

    I hope at least some of that helps. I'm sure you've considered at least some of this and I'm not trying to patronise. Breaking food habits is really tough and I wish you the best of luck!

    Wow, thank you thank you thank you for taking the time to write such a helpful response! You would think with an almost 4 year old child, i would be busy enough after dinner! I love the calorie trade off idea. I do that a lot when out to eat...wine or dessert, or hamburger bun or fries, etc. Once it stays light later, i want to start taking a family walk after dinner. That would really be the best thing.
  • ladyhusker39
    ladyhusker39 Posts: 1,408 Member
    edited January 2018
    I think I understand what you're staying. My mother grew up destitute and going hungry at dinner was a common occurrence. When I as a kid we had plenty of food but I would be punished if I tried to leave the table with food still on my plate. To this day I have a strong emotional compulsion to clean my plate and often to clean my kids' plates too.

    My sister has reacted in a different way. She can't bring herself to clean her plate for fear there will never be any more food, but it ends up being the same problem. We both have a distorted relationship with food.

    It's not a hunger question and while I appreciate several of the suggestions made here, I don't think the ones giving advice related to hunger are going to do the trick.

    Your struggle is psychological and emotional and it has to be addressed that way. I've adapted by "tricking" my brain by giving myself smaller servings so that I can satisfy my need to clean my plate without overeating. I use small salad plates instead of full size dinner plates. I also don't cook as much as I think I need to. I cook for 2 adults to feed my family of 4. I make a point of not having leftovers. Those 2 relatively small adjustments help me a lot.

    And yes, it could absolutely keep you from losing weight if you're not in a calorie deficit.

    This is just my opinion, so take it as such, but I would't be trying to do all these trendy diets. You have enough of a challenge focusing on your eating habit without the added work of following an overly restrictive plan. Eat what you enjoy and give yourself a chance to adapt to eating within a calorie deficit (or maybe initially at maintenance calories).

  • fitoverfortymom
    fitoverfortymom Posts: 3,453 Member
    I had to get over this by measuring out my entire allowed calories for dinner on my plate. I get to "clean my plate," but that's it. That's dinner. Hubby and my son put away any leftovers, but I've also gotten pretty good at not having a ton of leftovers (or at least ones that are not marked for lunches the next day).
  • abarriere
    abarriere Posts: 135 Member
    I think I understand what you're staying. My mother grew up destitute and going hungry at dinner was a common occurrence. When I as a kid we had plenty of food but I would be punished if I tried to leave the table with food still on my plate. To this day I have a strong emotional compulsion to clean my plate and often to clean my kids' plates too.

    My sister has reacted in a different way. She can't bring herself to clean her plate for fear there will never be any more food, but it ends up being the same problem. We both have a distorted relationship with food.

    It's not a hunger question and while I appreciate several of the suggestions made here, I don't think the ones giving advice related to hunger are going to do the trick.

    Your struggle is psychological and emotional and it has to be addressed that way. I've adapted by "tricking" my brain by giving myself smaller servings so that I can satisfy my need to clean my plate without overeating. I use small salad plates instead of full size dinner plates. I also don't cook as much as I think I need to. I cook for 2 adults to feed my family of 4. I make a point of not having leftovers. Those 2 relatively small adjustments help me a lot.

    And yes, it could absolutely keep you from losing weight if you're not in a calorie deficit.

    This is just my opinion, so take it as such, but I would't be trying to do all these trendy diets. You have enough of a challenge focusing on your eating habit without the added work of following an overly restrictive plan. Eat what you enjoy and give yourself a chance to adapt to eating within a calorie deficit (or maybe initially at maintenance calories).

    Oh yes, i have been known to be a vacuum for my kid's food as well...it's definitely a psychological habit as opposed to real hunger. You hit the nail on the head with that one.
  • sarasmiles124
    sarasmiles124 Posts: 138 Member
    My fiance has the same issue. He won't go for seconds on any other meal except dinner. In between we try and include small snacks so that he doesn't get tempted by other things. A lot of people from his work bring in cookies and etc and he struggles not to have any if he doesn't have healthy snacks with him.
  • cat_lady77
    cat_lady77 Posts: 203 Member
    I do it too!!! Even if it's "just a little more" I always tend to do that at dinner if I cook. I think it really does help to portion out everything even before you eat. That way you will have leftovers (which means less effort tomorrow!) and you aren't as tempted to go back for more. Good luck!
  • sjp_511
    sjp_511 Posts: 476 Member
    I cook dinner, I dish it out on plates for my husband and kids, the rest gets put away. Serving dishes with extra portions never make it to the table so we rarely eat a second portion. We always have fruit (and sometimes cookies or ice cream) available for an after dinner treat if anyone is still hungry.
  • murp4069
    murp4069 Posts: 494 Member
    I think I understand what you're staying. My mother grew up destitute and going hungry at dinner was a common occurrence. When I as a kid we had plenty of food but I would be punished if I tried to leave the table with food still on my plate. To this day I have a strong emotional compulsion to clean my plate and often to clean my kids' plates too.

    My sister has reacted in a different way. She can't bring herself to clean her plate for fear there will never be any more food, but it ends up being the same problem. We both have a distorted relationship with food.

    It's not a hunger question and while I appreciate several of the suggestions made here, I don't think the ones giving advice related to hunger are going to do the trick.

    Your struggle is psychological and emotional and it has to be addressed that way. I've adapted by "tricking" my brain by giving myself smaller servings so that I can satisfy my need to clean my plate without overeating. I use small salad plates instead of full size dinner plates. I also don't cook as much as I think I need to. I cook for 2 adults to feed my family of 4. I make a point of not having leftovers. Those 2 relatively small adjustments help me a lot.

    And yes, it could absolutely keep you from losing weight if you're not in a calorie deficit.

    This is just my opinion, so take it as such, but I would't be trying to do all these trendy diets. You have enough of a challenge focusing on your eating habit without the added work of following an overly restrictive plan. Eat what you enjoy and give yourself a chance to adapt to eating within a calorie deficit (or maybe initially at maintenance calories).

    I really agree with the above and we have a similar dynamic in my family. I ended up overeating and my sister undereats. And I have also struggled for many years with getting seconds, hungry or not.

    If I make the food, I simply make less of it, and my first portion is small enough that if I want a second portion, I'll still have room for it in my calories. I try not to make more than what I'm planning to eat that night. I do not plan for leftovers. Instead, I plan my lunches completely separately. If I have leftovers, it's typically because I or my husband ate less than I anticipated.

    My husband though is entirely incapable of making a reasonable dinner. Meaning, he apparently lacks the ability to cook for 2 (or even 3 or 4) and always cooks for an army (every meal he makes can easily feed 8-10). This is where I get into trouble, because it bothers me to have food waste, but my husband also is so picky that he rarely eats leftovers. So when he cooks, I take a reasonable portion (or a small portion to allow for a second small portion) and I immediately pack up the rest. Enough goes into the fridge for one more meal either just for me or something that gets better overnight, enough for one more meal for both myself and my husband. The rest goes into the freezer. If it's cold and I have to go through the extra step of heating it up, I probably won't want seconds.
  • abarriere
    abarriere Posts: 135 Member
    edited January 2018
    karla24687 wrote: »
    I do it too!!! Even if it's "just a little more" I always tend to do that at dinner if I cook. I think it really does help to portion out everything even before you eat. That way you will have leftovers (which means less effort tomorrow!) and you aren't as tempted to go back for more. Good luck!

    My husband's family eats family style with all the food on the table. That's the total worst for me!!! When they come to town to visit, his parents seem annoyed that we leave the food in the kitchen. His family is all overweight and doesnt really do anything about it. He's the anomaly, growing up with food all on the table, yet listening to his internal cues to stop right when he is full.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    My second portion (or sometimes, dessert) habit was--I now realize--a desire for the meal not to be over, as it was a time I gave myself to relax and not worry about stuff, and I had things I had to do once dinner was over.

    Anyway, you've gotten great advice. I'd say either decide you just won't eat seconds (and make the amount you want to eat -- if you want leftovers for lunches, as I do too, pack it up immediately, as someone else mentioned). Or, do the same thing but pack up the lunches, leave the amount you want to eventually eat, and then dish out half of it to start.
  • jkburkhart
    jkburkhart Posts: 8 Member
    I haven’t read the responses so I’m sorry if this is a repeat. I used to have this problem. I then would make my plate and put away all leftovers in containers in the fridge. Then i would eat. If i wanted seconds i made myself wait 1 hour. I rarely went back. It’s not even an issue anymore. Now i don’t even have to immediately put the food away.
  • Need2Exerc1se
    Need2Exerc1se Posts: 13,577 Member
    Use a smaller plate and have your seconds. I often go back for seconds at dinner. But I eat the majority of calories at dinner so it rarely causes me to overeat.