WWI Week 5: The psychology of splitting a meal

When the restaurant omelet's made with 5 eggs, half an order hardly seems like a sacrifice.

When the restaurant omelet’s made with 5 eggs, half an order hardly seems like a sacrifice. (BTW, the cheese looks weird because I started to scoot if off to the side thinking I wouldn’t eat it — but of course I did.)

For years, my parents have bickered over the notion of splitting a meal at a restaurant.

Grandpa lost 6.8 pounds in the first month on Wells Weighs In. Grandma came along for moral support.

Grandpa lost 6.8 pounds in the first month on Wells Weighs In. Grandma came along for moral support.

Dad would prefer to do it almost every time out, not just to save money but to cut down on oversized restaurant portions. But the very concept irritates Mom, in part because she likes dining out to feel like a treat but primarily because she hates doing anything that makes her feel like a cheapskate.

So on Thursday, after our team’s official February weigh-in — we lost a total of 28.2 pounds, details below — Colleen and Grandma ordered their own omelets while Dad and I split one.

On the surface, it may seem like yet another case of thinner people making a more intelligent food choice. But that’s really just a question of perception — and psychology.

I lost 10.6 pounds and Colleen lost 9.0 pounds according to the first month's official results.

I lost 10.6 pounds and Colleen lost 9.0 pounds according to the first month’s official results.

See, Dad and I both have a habit of finishing everything on our plate, no matter how full we are. (Mom and I came here Tuesday morning after Weight Watchers, ordered the exact same breakfasts as we did Thursday, and I wound up eating every morsel.)

This time, the waitress brought our half portions out on separate plates. I had an omelet the length of my fork (the full portion is made with five eggs, so this was hardly a sacrifice), a pancake, and a small bowl of fruit. Dad and I downed our breakfasts with no guilt attached.But there was no point in feeling smug, because our dining companions wound up eating only half their orders as well. Mom and Colleen both boxed up their leftovers to eat later in the day.

Traci, who only lost 1.8 pounds the first month, will have a hard time fitting into her wet suit if she ever starts swimming again!

Traci, who only lost 1.8 pounds the first month, will have a hard time fitting into her wet suit if she ever starts swimming again!

So in reality we all four split meals — only Mom and Colleen shared theirs with their future selves.

Dad and I would have a hard time doing that unless we set aside the “leftovers” first. And even then, there would be problems.

Dad wouldn’t really want to deal with his breakfast later in the day. He’d rather eat a bowl of cereal for lunch and maybe some popcorn and a banana for dinner.

As for me, I’d have a hard time divvying up my meal once it was already on my plate. It just works better to have someone else do it before it even arrives. And I’d probably eat it before the next meal, anyway — probably shortly after I got home. I just have no restraint when it comes to stuff like this.

Sharing a meal obviously doesn’t work for everyone. If it pushes the wrong buttons in your head and just makes you want to grab something else to eat after you leave the restaurant, then it doesn’t make sense to do it.

Everybody needs to figure out what works best for them, and do it. And the rest of us need to quit trying to impose our quirky customized convictions on other people.

Our team’s official one-month results:

We lost a total of 28.2 pounds. I lost 10.6 pounds, Colleen lost 9.0 pounds, Grandpa lost 6.8 pounds and Traci, mystifyingly, only lost 1.8 pounds.

She worked Wednesday night and so didn’t have a chance to weigh in until late in the day Thursday. She was disappointed, because at one point she’d been down 7 pounds.

“I’m pacing myself,” she told Colleen and I via text message.

“Well, she better start pacing herself on the treadmill,” quipped  Colleen, who couldn’t resist teasing her drill sergeant of an aunt, the person who’s always getting on everybody else’s case about getting in shape.

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