The first time I heard the word burrito was when Chipotle opened up near campus, where I was in grad school. A free burrito for anyone for the grand opening. For a broke-ass grad student, what grander invitation is there? So, I and a couple of my classmates stood in line for a few blocks and I got my free lunch.
This was only a month after I had moved to the US and my appetite and portion sizes were about the same as they were in India. For those of you who have eaten American portions, you know there's a huge difference.
I started to gobble up my food but I could barely make a dent at it. In fact, I saved up more than half of my burrito and ate that for dinner. Free lunch AND dinner!
My first chocolate milkshake
In fact, on my first day in town, I went to get a burger and got a chocolate milkshake as well. Coz I love that stuff. It was at Steak N Shake, for those of you who are curious.
It was the first time in my life that I could not finish a milkshake. In fact, I did not finish what was in my glass. In diners like these, they give you a tall glass and the big jar that they blended the milkshake in, to pour into your glass once you were done with your first serving. Ridiculous, I thought!
I was in shock and sadness. For wasting an amazing chocolate milkshake. I couldn't believe it.
In less than 6 months, I was easily polishing off my Chipotle burritos. And finishing the gargantuan milkshakes after a night of dinner and drinks.
What the heck happened? Simple. Linear progression.
It happened slowly but steadily. The second time I had a burrito, I ate a bit more than half. About 2 months in, I was starting to eat 2/3rds of it. And of course, the burrito was a simple watermark. But for every food plate that I encountered, I would pack half of it and eat it later. But slowly the quantity I was taking home reduced. Eventually, in just under 6 months, I was eating American-sized portions aka fucking gargantuan portions that you have no business eating.
You've eaten more than you should have. Multiple times. You feel full and not so good. And chastise yourself. But the food was soooo good and you couldn't help it.
This occasional over-eating is not what I am talking about. Your stomach size, your portion sizes are still what they are. This is why when you suddenly stuff in a lot more, it feels terrible.
But in my not-at-all unique case where I went from eating less than half a burrito to finishing a full one, slowly my mind and body got used to the larger sizes. I slowly trained my stomach to enlarge and accept and want more food. My hormonal signalling also modified itself to allow more food intake.
How the heck is any of this useful?
It is a two-way street!
Let me explain. You can train your mind and body to eat lesser portion sizes as well, in the same way. Today, if you suddenly eat half of your regular portion, you are gonna feel hungry. But if you eat 95%, you'd barely know the difference. Slow your eating, double your chewing and it becomes rather simple. And over 6 months, you can reduce your portion sizes to whatever is the appropriate amount.
Please note that I am not asking you to starve or eat half your food only, indiscriminately. We live in a day and age where we over-consume calories too easily. We eat more than we should. And it is simply because we have, unconsciously, put our mind and body on a linear progression.
Slowly, you can reverse it.
The concept of linear progression in strength training or in endurance work is rather similar. Do just a little bit more than what you did today. And soon enough, you are doing a lot more while expending the same amount of effort.
If you feel you over-eat...
Here's what you have to do. Simple linear reverse progression.
Eat slower. Chew more. And eat just a little less than you normally do.
Many times, we have a number in our heads coz that's the number we are used to. We don't listen to our bodies anymore. Instead of eating when we are hungry, we eat coz it is 9 pm or whatever.
While those are long-term fixes to do, my burrito eating and milkshake drinking should shine a bulb about your own eating habits over the last 10-20 years. I've had two people tell me that over the pandemic, all they did was something similar and their doctors are rather happy with them.
Linear reverse progression to find the right portion sizes for you. Do it!