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Teen Perspective: “Finish your plate.”

by Louise | May 13th, 2011 | Teen Perspective, Teens

“Finish your plate.” This is a phrase that was commonly heard at the dinner table when I was back at home. There are two reasons that this command was said: 1. My sisters and I had served ourselves too much and were feeling too full to eat the rest. 2. There was something on the plate that we didn’t like and we were trying to avoid it.

When the phrase is being said for the former explanation, I do not think it is good advice. The positive lesson it taught me was to be careful about how much I served myself. I also commonly heard my mother scold me for having eyes bigger than my stomach. However, I also developed the bad habit of basing how much I ate off of what was in front of me. I have never ordered a dish at a restaurant and left edible food on my plate. Never. I didn’t even realize that wrapping up extra food to take home was an option until halfway through high school: I went out to eat with a few friends and I was abhorred to see one of my friends only eat a third of his plate. He said he was full. What a waste! I thought. However, when he asked for a doggie bag, I realized he was simply being smart.

There’s no reason to stuff yourself just to finish your plate. The portions at restaurants are, more often than not, larger than they should be. Just because we paid for it doesn’t mean we have to consume every last bite. Many of us have grown up with idea that we need to finish our plates. However, this mindset is wrong, and probably a contributing factor to American overweight. If what is on our plates is too much for us, there is nothing forcing us to finish it, and we shouldn’t. Ideally, we would be served the perfect amount, but this is not always the case. We should not let our plates determine how much we eat.

Of course, the second reason my mother told me to finish my plate was so that I would eat some food I had been avoiding. She taught me to eat different types of food, even if I didn’t like it. This is a good habit to learn. It’s ridiculous to be picking a plate apart, looking to set aside those pesky mushrooms or beets.

Tell your children to finish their plates, but let it not be solely for the purpose of emptying one’s plate.

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