Many of us have heard this phrase during our childhood, but have also said it to our own children.
The people I see as part of the coaching related to eating disorders and weight problems are often still conditioned by that message and they often continue to convey to their own children.
Two justifications are most frequently mentioned when it comes to understanding why this diktat:
-It Would be rude not to eat the entire contents of the plate that your host has presented to you. He went to the trouble of cooking and expected that you do him honor by eating everything he served you. You then give him the recognition he expects from you. And if in addition he did this with love, how dare you refuse part of that love?
-In a world where so many people don’t eat their fill and sometimes die from that, how can we conceive of throwing food away? How dare we spoil it by putting it in the trash rather than eat it?
Eating is the most intimate relationship that we have with ourself: we eat things which will then be part of us.
We eat by hunger and appetite. In doing so, we give our body what it needs in terms of calories, fat, carbohydrates, nutrients …
What we eat beyond our hunger is stored by the body in different forms and participates in the excess weight. Fat is the excess material that our body can store in greater proportion. By eating beyond our hunger, we ignore messages from one of the finest mechanics on earth, namely the human body.
Knowing this, do you just finish your plate with “politeness” to be a good guest? Why should eating according to your needs make us be ungrateful, disrespectful? In some Asian countries, it is fashionable to not finish your plate as it could suggest that there was not enough food …
As for the waste, isn’t it worst to treat your own body as rubbish, making it ingest foods which it does not need, rather than throwing it in the trash? Discard food or your health and well-being?
Finishing your plate does not solve the problems of malnutrition in the world. Instead, we’re eating more and thus producing more, creating more imbalances. It would be better to cook in smaller quantities, more suitable to our needs and to maintain adequately the leftovers.
Let children trust their feeling of satiety and thereby not put at risk their eating behaviour of adults in the making.