Posts Tagged ‘Fat Tuesday’


“You don’t get dessert until you clean your plate.” This was the dinner table mantra of my childhood. Not only did I have to produce a crumb-free plate, I also had to polish off a rich glass of whole milk.  But why are so many parents, including my own,  set on their children becoming lifelong members of the clean plate club? It goes back to the years of our grandparents, when the Depression left families worrying about food security. They cleaned their plates because they didn’t know when another satiating meal would arrive. Although these tough times taught valuable lessons of frugality and appreciation, the legacy of engorgement, especially in fatty or high sugary foods, emerged. And that leads us to the present,  a generation where parents are still teaching their children to overeat, even though food security is no longer an issue, because that was the golden rule concerning breakfast, lunch and dinner. Probably the most enticing one-liner parents have up there sleeves is, ” Now, be sure to eat all of your food because there are starving children in Africa.”  Perhaps parents should say, “Just eat until your full honey because there is an obesity epidemic in America.”

The whole notion that we are a nation founded by clean platers struck me today during my lifespan nutrition class. Unbeknown to me, humans are born with the physiological ability to recognize satiation (or fullness). The human body tries to protect itself from consuming more calories than it needs, but this self-regulating mechanism is virtually destroyed during the toddler and preschool years.  It is vital that parents in the US boycott eating practices that preach engorgement rather than promoting fullness. Feeding environments should be loving environments where parents recognize and positively respond to their children’s hunger cues. This seemingly simple concept is a strong tool against the fight against childhood and adult obesity. 

But what about adults…are we too gluttonous to be saved? The answer is no, but it does take work. We must eat slowly, savoring each unique flavor and sensation. Portions should be small (dessert or salad plates help), and re-fills should only be dolled out when our stomachs but not our eyes are hungry. But most of all, we must learn to recognize when we are full or hungry. Over time, this will naturally reset our physiological satiety cues. My revolution about fullness and satiety came at the most opportune time, seeing that the Lenten season begins in just a few short hours, and I had yet to choose my method of self-deprivation. But I hereby declare to indefinitely resign my membership in the clean plate club.


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