That frame of mind is quite possibly the biggest factor contributing to America's being the country with the highest population of obese individuals in the world.
Elsewhere in the world, if you take a look at people you will notice that for the most part, they eat to enjoy the flavor of their foods, rather than for the overwhelming feeling of being "stuffed", to the point where they cannot even move after a meal.
This is why you see portion sizes much smaller when you go to a restaurant serving European-style cuisine, and all the foreigners are delighting in the delicacy on their plates, while the Americans are usually complaining about the portion sizes!
It's not an uncommon thing to see parents telling their children to "finish what's on their plate". Unfortunately, what parents don't realize, is that this trains children at a young age to "overstuff" themselves, and eat way past the point of fullness.
Once the mind is trained to overeat, it is an extremely difficult habit to un-train. It takes strict discipline often to the point of telling yourself "I'm not going to overeat", again and again, until it becomes so habitual that the mere thought of overstuffing yourself makes you sick to your stomach (and it SHOULD).
Eat Big To Get Big?
Unfortunately, this frame of mind creates a problem when trying to lean down. The majority of people who overeat all the time when trying to pack on that muscle mass are successful in gaining size, but could not lean down even if they WANTED to, simply because they cannot grasp the mental discipline it takes to decrease the sizes of their portions.
When they try to do so, they wind up binge eating, which is a whole different problem in itself (see my article on binge eating at: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/herve2.htm).
Also, when trying to gain muscle mass, most people will often find that they don't need to necessarily be overly-full in their stomachs in order to get the proper amount of calories to pack on that extra size. In fact, you can probably consume way more calories than your body needs to gain muscle mass, and still NOT feel stuffed at all!
In the long run, this will benefit your physique, as well as your digestive tract, which gets less and less efficient as you get older. Here are some suggestions that I offer in order to help with getting over eating such large meals:
- Take your time when you eat. If you eat too quickly, you will finish your food before your stomach gets to tell your brain that it is full.
- Try to enjoy the flavor of your food, rather than just stuffing the food down your throat. Think about what nutritional value you are obtaining from the food you are eating, rather than the stuffed feeling you used to aim for.
- If you are having too difficult of a time adjusting to eating smaller meals, and absolutely HAVE to feel full, then get full on gigantic SALADS. They will help you to lean out, and provide your body with plenty of nutrients that it needs. I like putting toasted sesame oil, garlic powder, and balsamic vinegar in my salads for seasoning.
In conclusion, smaller meals will make you live longer, look and feel better, and will put more money into your pockets, since the food you buy will last a lot longer. You will also develop a better sense of taste, and learn to enjoy the food you are eating, as well as the benefits you are giving to your body, since you will be eating nutrient dense food, and not garbage (I hope).
And lastly, when you DO decide to eat some junk, at least you will have control over the portion size, and won't overdo it. If you do, then all your results in the gym will be hindered, and you'll have to start from step one again. It's all about consistency, and if you can learn to be consistent with smaller portion sizes, your body will love you for it, and you'll love the results you see on your physique as well.