Highlight text to annotate itX
Recently, during a small group session, a familiar "instruction" or "guilt trip" was
discussed. Clean your plate... It made me think about some of the advice that could
be described as bad advice in the long run depending on how you look at it.
How many times as kids were we told to "clean your plate" or finish all your food. The logic
usually ran to something along the lines that there are "starving kids in Africa who would
love to have your food". The return response usually was something like, "fine, give them
my peas and lima beans. I'm sure it will be moldy and disgusting by the time it gets to
Africa". I should also state that I was quite the smart mouth.
Have you ever actually thought about the bad side of "clean your plate"? Have you looked
around yourself recently and noticed the increasing obesity epidemic? I am one of those people
who has always "cleaned my plate" and it has usually been a large plate from childhood
into adulthood. The instruction to clean your plate has forced
many kids to eat whatever is set before them, full or not. It has also created an unhealthy
relationship with food, partially because of the big portions that America tends to
serve. We think we must have more to be fulfilled when in reality we didn't need that entire
plate of spaghetti, veggies, bread, etc. Its my opinion that if we are going to continue
telling our kids to "clean your plate", then adults need to wake up and learn about nutrition
and portion control. Following the food pyramid actually DOES help. You can still eat some
of the "unhealthy" foods if you find a proper balance. Pizza can be made healthier, burgers
can be made healthier, etc. You can also limit those foods to special days.
It's not just about proper portion control for the kids; parents and other adults need
to do the same thing. Lead by example. Eat proper amounts and your children will follow.
It definitely makes things easier if you start when they are young but family eating habits
eventually can be transitioned if you start later.
I am speaking to the choir, so to say. I've been looking back at my life and have been
reminded many times about growing up and my family's portions. One stark reminder was
going to dinner at another family's home and how little they put on our plates. I kept
asking about seconds and they didn't have any. Not because they didn't make enough food
but because they made a proper amount for each person. There wasn't any over eating,
just a satisfying meal. I still struggle with overeating. I struggle
with "cleaning my plate" and cooking too much. There is always the guilt of eating more so
I don't waste food. I forget how easily I could just freeze portions for other meals.
I also feel guilty for the example I'm setting for my young child.
So thank you to whichever parent started the "clean your plate" phrase. I bet you were
doing your best to get your whiny child to eat those gross peas but somewhere along the
line, your advice became dangerous. Yes society has created this obesity epidemic by the "large
portion" plates, etc, but until you put less on the plate, perhaps you should refrain from
instructing kids to "clean your plate".