3 Bites–Published in Pune Mirror, April 4, 2011

Pattiseries, Boulangeries and Fromageries – pastries, bakeries and cheese shops. An abundance of them line nearly every street in France, even in the smallest of villages and yet French women manage to keep their svelte figures. In the well known book, “Why French Women Don’t Get Fat,” author Mireille Guiliano explains how French women can eat pastries, breads and chocolates on a regular basis and not put on weight. One of her most important points is that the French savour their food and use all 5 senses when eating their meal and that French women don’t eat until they are full. She believes that three bites of a dish are all you really need to enjoy and be satisfied. She applies the 3 bite rule especially when eating her favourite — pastries.
3 bites of gulab jamun, 3 bites of tiramisu, 3 bites of rasmalai…go ahead and indulge in 3 bites of the foods you love. The 3 Bite Rule is a wonderful tool for those who want to maintain their weight. The concept is that we should not deny ourselves any of our favourite foods, instead should be allowed to eat 3 bites of the food, just enough to satisfy our craving. Studies show after three bites, the food loses its initial appeal and most of us just keep eating out of habit. The first bite is delicious, the second confirms the first and with the third your palate has had its fill — you should say thank you and stop.

Simple. Not really – we all know that self-control is never easy. But this rule is worth a try — 3 bites are better than no bites and 3 bites are better than stuffing yourself and feeling guilty and bloated after you have eaten too much. The concept is not to deprive yourself of any one food, then chances are that bingeing on that food some time later will not happen. In Brian Wansick’s “Mindless Eating” he points out that the first bite of a food tastes the best and each subsequent bite is less and less satisfying.

Parties, social occasions and dining out are a big part of life and should be enjoyed. If you are regular party goer there are many temptations with varied cuisines and desserts and it is difficult to say no to the host. Take a small portion – 3 bites worth. If you seldom go out then this rule should still be applied – do not have the attitude, “I hardly eat out so let me gobble this all up.” Practice the rule at home as well, and you will always be able to enjoy your savouries and desserts with friends and family.

There is of course a right way to eat those 3 bites. Firstly eat slowly. Enjoy each bite and be conscious and grateful of what you are eating. Secondly do not eat while doing any other activity – no chatting on the phone, watching television or surfing the net. Just eat. Third, watch the sizes of the bites. They should be literally bites from a regular sized spoon – not a serving spoon or a katori. The 3 bite rule is meant to help with one of the most difficult aspects of weight control – portion sizes, so remember that when choosing your spoon. Also, if you are hungry then you cannot apply the 3 bite rule – you will still be hungry after 3 bites. Nutritious and wholesome foods should be eaten when you are hungry –not chocolate cake, bakarwadis or the like.

And at buffet style eating the host may put out a large variety of 10- 15 types of dishes. This rule is not a license to fill your plate with 3 bites of every dish. Do not defeat the purpose of the rule – use common sense and moderation.

Eating 3 bites of foods you like will not be easy at first – it does take practice. So please practice and train your brain to eat only 3 bites – you will find that 3 becomes your favourite number.

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