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Clean plate club

Are you a member of the clean plate club? Remember that from childhood? Remember the shame your parents would put on you to finish everything on your plate?

Even if you were full, even if there was something on your plate that disagreed with you, that made you sick, you were expected to finish it off.

I get it. Our parents didn’t want us to be wasteful. They needed us to learn to appreciate what we had. They also didn’t want to have to feed us at irregular times. If we didn’t eat at lunch time, we’d be hungry at 2, and they would have to make more food for us. That is inconvenient for them. It also teaches the child that he is in charge, and that is a bad precedent.

But there is a problem here. The child didn’t fill his own plate. There may be too much on it. There may be items on it he is allergic to.

Children are not small adults. Their stomachs are smaller. To insist that they eat the same amount and at the same times as adults is to ignore that fact.

To insist that they clean their plate when they had no say as to what and how much went on it is to teach them to ignore their own body’s needs and their own feelings. It is to tell them that their own needs and feelings do not matter.

It is exactly the same as force feeding the child. Actually it is worse. It is expecting the child to force feed himself. It sets him up for a lifetime of not listening to his own body’s needs. It sets him up for obesity, at a minimum.

At the worst it teaches him that his own needs and feelings do not matter, do not count. It teaches him that he, himself, as a person does not matter and does not count.

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