Wednesday, October 5, 2016


“Portion control.”

“What?” I mumbled, as I reached into the bag for another cookie.

“What happened to portion control?” she pressed on.

My confused look told her I had no idea what she was talking about. Her stern glare indicated I should have figured it out. Our personal confusions clashed mid-air and hung suspended during my internal conflict. My independent womanhood fought hard to maintain supremacy over my inner child caught in the act.

“You are eating those cookies right out of the bag. Yesterday it was the chips.”

I could have given her more examples—new habits she didn’t even know about—but I stayed quiet. It might be better if my daughter didn’t know I now ate ice cream out of the carton and daintily sipped wine directly from the bottle. People who live alone don’t worry as much about spreading germs as avoiding another bowl or goblet to wash.

I had a fleeting epiphany. I concluded her challenge came from self-interest and concern for getting her own fair share. “Here,” I offered. “Want a cookie? You can eat all you want. And if we run out, I can buy more tomorrow.”

“No. I don’t want a cookie, and I don’t care if I have one tomorrow. You are missing the point.” So much for my epiphany.

"When you eat from the package, you have no idea how much you are eating. You always eat more than you planned." I couldn’t argue with that because I knew that although I had never planned to eat sixteen giant, deliciously gluten-free ginger cookies in one sitting, I had done it on more than one occasion.

“Portion control allows you to enjoy treats in manageable—and calorie reasonable—amounts. It means you will have some tonight and can have some tomorrow. It keeps you from swinging wildly between craving a particular food to never wanting to eat it again.”

It was pointless to argue with her logic, and so I began to remove two cookies from the bag and serve chips and salsa in small size bowls. I dipped ice cream one scoop each time. I stopped eating cranberries, walnuts and mini-marshmallows out of the bag and carried them away from the pantry in cute little cups. In the process of asserting my true intentions regarding food in my life, I had a new epiphany. Portion control isn’t just about food.

Countless activities in my life are just as out of control. I start tasks and don't know when to quit. I spend hours on the hamster-wheel of ‘just one more thing.’ I work too long, I work too late, and then sometimes I don’t work at all. A justifiable put-your-feet-up with a new book break and a bracing cup of coffee becomes a seven-hour out-of-body experience. I discover too late that while I have been transported to far off lands in other centuries, my fictional traveling companions didn’t feed me dinner, empty the trash or turn on the lights.

I am instituting portion control in my life this fall. I am setting timers so I take reasonable breaks. Instead of avoiding an overwhelming task, I am tackling it in less stressful segments of an hour or two. I subscribed to a blog on simplicity that gives me practical tips for decluttering my life. I am cleaning out years of living one shelf or one drawer at a time. My days are consumed in bite-sized chunks.

My daughter is right. It is about portion control.