The Return Plate is one method for cutting back on the amount you eat. The Return Plate is simply an extra plate that you use at the beginning of a meal or snack.
Before you begin eating, take a small portion of the food and put it on this plate. This is food you intend to return back to the system---without putting it through your own system!
Sometime during or after the meal, put the food on your Return Plate in the garbage. It may go against all of your upbringing, but do it anyway.
At first, you might put only 5% of your food on this plate (or even less). That's okay. Later on, you can change this and intentionally put more food on your Return Plate.
When dining at restaurants, ask your server for an extra plate. Put your Return food on it. During the meal, when your server drops by to ask how everything is, give the Return Plate to the server and say that you don't want that food and to please take it away. This is very empowering, and you will never miss the food.
When you use this technique, you create several important boundaries for yourself:
You create a boundary when you separate out the food you're willing to return. That physical break in the food is more than symbolic; it is a real, visible break that represents your change in thinking about food and your portions.
You create another boundary by separating yourself from the food when you throw it away. Throwing the food away is important, because there is a finality about putting food in the trash can. (Putting the food in a container makes the food too accessible later on!) The act of throwing food away signifies that you know it's better to discard some of the food rather than consume what you don't need.
The Return Plate represents your commitment to intentionally think about your portions. This strategy, like many in the CAMP System, can open doors to you for learning about yourself. Think of CAMP as a life laboratory in which you experiment. How much can you comfortably put on your Return Plate? How does it feel to have more control? Day by day, experiment to find out.