Weight Loss Support - Avoiding Using Eating as a Way of Cleaning

05-18-2010, 05:06 PM
I've been trying to identify the different ways in which I rationalize -- and used to rationalize -- putting things in my mouth when I'm not particularly hungry, and I finally had a moment of illumination about a week ago when my mother was visiting me. (I've worked so hard at changing certain behaviors that I can't see what I've changed till she comes around & I realize I don't do certian things anymore.)

What I call this is "eating to clean."

You have eaten to clean if you:

1) See a small bit of food left in a pot or serving bowl, which may not quite be a full portion, and eat it just to empty the pot or bowl, so you can wash it.*

2) Try to fill up a plastic storage container, and finding that there's not much in there, finish the portion. Or eat the portion just to avoid putting something in a storage container & fitting it into your fridge.

3) Finish something left on someone else's plate before the waiter clears it, or while you're clearing the table at home.

4) Lick a knife or a spoon completely clean after using it to stir or spread or otherwise serve something.

5) Scrape the inside of a pan, bowl or mixer clean, with spoon or tongue (Okay, I confess. This used to be the best part of my mother baking a cake or cookies -- getting to lick the bowl or beater! But what's cute in a kid may not be so good for a woman doing a whole holiday's worth of baking.).

6) Bake something & burn the edges slightly, cut them off to make the baked thing more attractive-looking & then eat them.

7) "Neaten up" the appearance of a sliced pie or cake by finishing off any oozing filling or crumbs or bottom piece stuck to the remainder of the pan.

Now, I don't mean to be fanatical. Because who doesn't lick a spoon or something now & then? Most Betty Crocker & Duncan Hines commercials show an adorable freckle-faced child doing just that after Mom makes a mix cake or pan of brownies. But I think since women are often preparing food & cleaning it up afterward, this is a very easy way to eat more than you think you are, and that the actions are so automatic, they are practically mindless, so you may not even have a memory of doing it. Which doesn't help with the whole goal of mindful eating & taking our time & finding pleasure in what we eat.

Do other peoples' families do this? I'll bet they do.


*This is what led me to form my hypothesis: At the end of a meal, my mother would always say to my father (and now that he's gone, will now say to me), in an expectant voice: "There's just a little bit of this left. It's not enough to save." The expectation being that we will eat it, so that she can have a clean dish & will not have to take out any Tupperware. I resisted this during her visit & found that she really, really hated throwing out the food. Got all injured-looking & reproachful. Made drama about really ostentatiously throwing it into the trash. (Wouldn't eat it herself, though, I noticed.)

05-18-2010, 05:12 PM
Lots of great points, I know I am guilty of all the above.

One thing I am really trying to work on - throwing away food. If I don't want to eat or if there is too much I to just throw it away and not feel bad or wasteful. I guess I always just see $$$ when I am throwing food away.

I don't mind taking extra for work, but sometimes I find myself eating something even if I don't like it. I don't get enough calories to eat something I don't enjoy. Yet I eat it anyway so I don't have to throw it away.

05-18-2010, 05:13 PM
Thats funny! I think there are probably a lot of us eat to clean-ers! I am certainly one of them.

I used to also always eat as an excuse to sit for a few minutes. I would always be on the go, but felt like I could sit if I was eating something. So I found myself choosing to eat so I could relax - sometimes that meant eating for an hour. yikes! I learned to stop doing this a while back, but I still often eat to clean, like you just described.

I have been known to chew gum while cooking - this helps with the mindless licking and shoving of food down my throat.

Thanks for sharing. You have an excellent point!

05-18-2010, 06:02 PM
Oh, yes, I did this all the time. I hate waste, passionately, and it's all too easy to just eat it up, when we're talking about a couple of forkfuls, or something. I've got so much better at that, now. If there's not enough left to make up a serving, or at least a decent snack, out it goes. I also have a bunch of tiny plastic containers that I use mostly for storing homemade curry pastes and the like, but they'll fit a few tablespoons of something, easily, and it it's like a bit of dal or hummous, or the like, that makes a decent, small, snack, and I'm often glad to have it the next day.

jessy 49
05-18-2010, 06:11 PM
How right you are! Of course! I'm sure I take in lots of extra calories eating up left-overs in the fridge -- just so I wont "waste" 1/2 a cup of something left from two nights before. Thanks for the heads up!

05-18-2010, 06:32 PM
My husband does this, but I don't. I have told him more than once that he treats his body like it's a trash can / garbage disposal--he's so vehemently opposed to the idea of "waste" that he frequently eats stuff he doesn't want or need. He's getting better about it, though; when it comes to things that are really, truly nutritionally void he won't insist on eating them, and can actually throw away cakes/cookies/etc. now. (Or, let me throw them away, without making a fuss.)

I have never eaten to clean. I've licked many a bowl or plate because I wanted to eat the batter or other food, though :D My husband loves to tease me when we make something particularly delicious and I lick the plate so clean that you can't tell it's been used! If it's THAT good, I just want every molecule I've weighed out for myself.

05-18-2010, 11:49 PM
I'm one of these, I eat all my food because I feel guilty throwing it out, I lick the knife after spreading peanut butter, I'll finish food just to get rid of the last little bit so I can clean.

Now if I make too much portion size, I save the rest for lunch the next day. That definately helps me from eating it all.