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Rules about eating

Saturday, May 18, 2019

As kids, we were expected to eat everything on our plate.

We did not get to fill the plate....that was done for us.

I have memories of long vigils with my brother or me, sitting at the table after everyone else had left, knowing I could not be excused until some dreaded (and now cold) food had been consumed.

Once, when I was a very young child, I remember telling my mother that my stomach was upset and I couldn't eat anything.
She told me that if I was sick and could not eat, then I had to go to bed--thinking she was calling my bluff.
She was surprised when I accepted those conditions, and she was only convinced when she then heard me vomiting in the bathroom.

Looking back, I understand now that those early scenes were more about power and who was in charge. It was all about being an obedient child.

When my turn came at motherhood, that was one approach I did not use.

My sons were not forced to eat anything. Of course, I was not above bribery when it came to some foods, but there were no after-meal ordeals at our home.


One day a good friend told me a rule she taught her kids to follow whenever they were guests for a meal: always leave some food on the plate. She explained that the uneaten food would give a message to the hostess that you were filled, and had eaten all you wanted.


Today, whenever we eat out at a restaurant, I usually leave food on the plate. The portion sizes today are much bigger than they ever used to be. I think they are too big.

Many of us take home the remaining food. And eateries are usually ready to package it up for you.

During the year I lived in London, I saw that the portions were much smaller. And one time when we asked to take home the food we did not eat, it was seen as a strange request. We never did that again!


When I was a kid, we were not allowed to drink soda. My husband, on the other hand, had soda all the time. Unfortunately, he still likes to drink it today. When our grandkids are eating at our place, I explain that Grandpa has this very bad habit; and I tell them how Coke would take the paint finish off your car.

Kids were also not allowed to have coffee or tea, because of caffeine. And candy was a rarity.
Those are rules I kept for my own kids.

Finally, we kids had to ask to be excused from the table before we were allowed to leave. Sometimes when I hear that being done today, I like it. I did not teach that to my sons.
Too bad.






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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • IMPROVINGME
    When I was growing up, our mother served our dinners family style, and my brother, sister, and I were allowed to fill our own plates. My daddy's rule: "Take all you want, but eat all you take."
    151 days ago
  • OVERWORKEDJANET
    I like your rules; I followed similar growing up!

    Soda takes the enamel off your teeth and I've never been a soda drinker although I clearly remember the taste of "Tab" my mother used to love!

    I used to take leftovers home, not so much now and if I do it gets picked apart to remove breads!
    151 days ago
  • MORTICIAADDAMS
    My parents were exactly the same. I hated meatloaf and mom forced me to sit there until I ate it. I could not get the dog to at it and got caught once hiding it in a napkin. I also did not force my son to eat foods he didn't like and now he is very receptive to trying new foods. More so than I am. When I was young we did not leave the table until everyone was done eating and we did that with our son. We didn't have soda or treats often. No coffee but we did have tea.
    152 days ago
  • 1CRAZYDOG
    My kids were involved in meal prep (once they were a little older) and so they got to take a taste and if they didn't like it they just had a "no thank you " helping. Then they could have a PB&J if they wanted. But I didn't make them separtae meals.

    Of course, if they were ill, I kept them hydrated, and then once they were over it, it was back to business as usual.

    I gresw up in a household where the plate had to be cleaned. Never did that w/my kids.
    152 days ago
  • WATERMELLEN
    With my intuitive eating experiment, I'm listening for signals that hunger is ALMOST satisfied: and stopping. Very interesting experiment because we were strongly "encouraged" to eat everything put on our plates for sure -- again, parenting by two people who'd gone through the depression as children themselves with rather limited family incomes.
    152 days ago
  • KALIGIRL
    Interesting how 'rules' change...
    152 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    I think for some folks in our parents' generation eating everything no matter what was as a result of them being raised in the Great Depression and taking the 'waste not, want not' to heart. There was no disposable income in our childhood home so finances were also a driving force.
    152 days ago
  • NANCY-
    I had one battle with my mom over liver .... I sat at the table forever. Cold liver wasn't any better than warm liver. Yes, I was expected to clean my plate. And no, I didn't finish it.

    For my kids I had "No Thank You" helpings, about two tablespoons just to sample. With two adult kids still living with us, we still have nightly family dinners.
    152 days ago
  • 1DAY-ATA-TIME
    I was a member of the clean plate club but I didn't impose this rule upon my kids with one exception. My son refused to eat vegetables and we insisted that he eat some of his veggies before leaving the table.
    152 days ago
  • SIMPLY_JAE
    My mother's rule was eat everything on your plate.. My father's thought..leave some food on your plate to prove to yourself that if you were full it was okay not eat everything..both my parents grew through the great depression...I still to this day follow either one of these rules depending how i am feeling.
    152 days ago
  • MRPEABODY
    I didn't make my children "clean their plate" because I struggle with it. I feel I must eat everything even though I am full.
    152 days ago
  • MDOWER1
    My rule if you take it you eat it
    152 days ago
  • ONEKIDSMOM
    Fascinating the cultural differences... time AND geography seem to make a difference.

    We did not have soda (called pop in my youth, until I got "Easternized"... that's a funny story, as my date from Brooklyn asked if I wanted to go for a soda after a concert, and in my mind the only "soda" I knew was ice cream soda...) at home. My uncle used it as a bribe for the kids. If we were good, we got 4 ounces at bedtime!

    My parents had a hard rule that you had to be 16 to try coffee! By that time I was so hooked on sugar that coffee had to be heavily doctored with milk/cream and sugar before I considered it drinkable.

    And of course, it's interesting that parental rules we found most damaging to ourselves, we don't impose on our kids.
    152 days ago
  • RO2BENT
    If they're full and had a balanced meal, they're good
    152 days ago
  • ALEXANDRAE
    We never had soda at home, only special occasions. I’m grateful now. I try to do the same with step kids and now grandkids. They are bombarded with opportunities everywhere
    152 days ago
  • NELLJONES
    My mother insisted we clean our plates, too, I guess it was shades of the Depression both of my parents grew up in. I never did that, my kids had to taste each thing, but if they didn't like it, they didn't have to eat it. And we are grateful that unlike my parents, we have never known real hunger.
    152 days ago
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