When I was a little girl, I remember sitting in our dining room one evening completely alone. In front of me sat a plate of food I had refused to finish at dinner. Honestly, I can’t even recall what the bulk of the plate held, but the cold, untouched peas are etched in my memory forever.
The room was dark and my angry father, who as usual drank far too much Scotch that evening, seemed even darker. My tiny, lonely body sat there late into the evening slowly consuming each morsel of food on that overwhelming plate, gagging on every single pea. My fear of getting up from the table far outweighed the discomfort of getting to a clean plate as my dad ordered before I could finally make my way to bed.
And so it began…
I learned 2 things that night:
- Always clean my plate and do it quickly while the food is still warm. This one point has been two different thorns in my side over the years. It not only forced me to eat past my fullness to see an empty plate, but it also turned me into someone who inhales food as quickly as humanly possible.
- Vegetables taste terrible. It took until deep into my adult life to start enjoying any type of vegetable. Peas never made the cut and I refuse to consume them in any way, shape, or form to this day.
Were you told countless times as a child to finish your plate? Those orders loved to be followed with threats of no dessert, struggling through cold, undesirable food, or even the many stories of the hungry children around the world. As adults we fully understand how those clean plates broke our fullness meter and that those hungry children weren’t getting any benefit from us finishing all of our dinner. Yet, we stay locked into eating every last crumb of our meals.
I absolutely adore this thought from Brittany Watkins (please excuse the profanity, but there is honestly no better word): Whether that extra food ends up in the trash or on your ass, it’s the same.
Truth… If we eat when our bodies are full and satiated, we are wasting food. We will not get the money back for it, send it to a poverty stricken community, or save it somewhere inside our bodies for later use (except in the form of unwanted fat).
Let it go. My kids have no problem scraping their plates off into the trash once their little bellies are full. I must admit to usually ending our meals with telling my teenage son to take just a few more bites of his vegetable section. He always sweetly obliges and understands that’s more of a “let me get every last green thing in you before you leave home” thing rather than a clean plate order.
I’ve seen my adult daughter order an entire dessert at a restaurant and just eat a few delicious bites. This blows my mind. It takes everything I have not to reach over and clean that sugar filled plate of hers, but her pure delight in those 3-4 simple forkfuls continues to teach me well.
So, how do we get back to recognizing our bodies signs of fullness and break our clean plate habits? We will need to reprogram our body, mind, and soul.
Here’s a few tips covering each of those areas to get started:
*Slow down! Even if you’re not ready to stop seeing a clean plate at the end of your meal, follow some of those tried and true tips we’ve all heard before. Chew more, put your fork down between bites… This will help your stomach’s warnings reach your brain before you overstuff it to painful exhaustion.
*Remember our bodies are truly a gift from God and He expects us to take care of them. He would definitely prefer a little food thrown in the trash rather than overfeeding ourselves to the point where we aren’t capable of living every second of the amazing life He planned for us.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
~1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
*Practice leaving food on your plate. Even if you still think you’re hungry, leave a little food on your plate at every meal. If you’re at a restaurant, pack up half and take it home for later. At home, try throwing away part of every meal until it’s not a shockingly uncomfortable action.
Are you clean plate obsessed? I would love to hear part of your story or tips you’ve used to overcome it in the comments!