...Or You Won’t Get Dessert

Friday, July 30, 2010

Forget “here comes the aeroplane”... this might be the best inducement I’ve seen to get children to finish their meals...

Picture: Jim Bob Art on Etsy

I think the fez really makes it...

That said, I’m not quite sure where I stand on the “eat everything on your plate” debate.

On the one hand, it’s a good thing to learn that your parents aren’t short order cooks, and that meals come at intervals rather than exactly what you want to eat materialising at exactly when you want to eat it*. And to push through the initial “not trying that” to experience new tastes that turn out to be pretty good, and develop a bit of adventurousness with eating. As well as to experience sharing meals with your family, so that you grow up enjoying the social aspects of enjoying food together**.

But on the other hand, teaching children to eat everything they’re given can create a deep-rooted sense of obligation to eat everything when servings are too large, or when you have a choice of whether or not to eat something. As serving sizes get bigger and bigger, the amount sometimes served to the smaller members of the family can be disproportionate; parents who tell their kids to stay there until they’ve finished a mound of food that is almost the size of the child themselves definitely bring out my inner bolshie cow. And it leads to people eating too much when they’re adults, worrying that it’s “rude” to not finish each course at a restaurant, and feeling obliged to finish meals that are disappointing or just not to their taste when out.

Picture: We Heart Food

One of the best things my mum and dad taught me was that when you’re eating out, you’re the one paying, so you get to eat what you want, and leave the rest. And if that means you don’t like it, or you want to save room for dessert, then fine. But that if you decide you’re hungry an hour later on, then you might need to get used to the grumbling tum.

What do you think about eating everything on your plate?

* Depending on your perspective, that’s what happens when you move out. Or, with a vague level of irony, when you visit your parents after you’ve moved out. The trifle-eating cat’s dad has established that the easiest way to get a lasagne is to wait for me to visit...
** And sitting at a table to eat is shown to make you eat less than gutsing away on the couch. Except for those studies that show that people eat more in company. Hmmm... statistics. Evil, evil statistics.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella on July 30, 2010 at 9:23 PM

I must admit I'm not a huge eat everything on your plate kind of eater but I also hate seeing food go to waste. So that's where Mr NQN comes in handy. He eats what I can't! :P

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