Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Clean Plate Club- Are You a Member?

Background: All week I have been thinking about Pumpkin Ice Cream. I knew from blogland that the Edy's Pumpkin was out but I haven't made it to the grocery store to actually buy it. It's to the point where I sit in tutoring plotting how I can make it to the grocery store before the next thing I have to do, but...still all I have done is dream about it.

So tonight after my kettlebell class I headed to my parents to hang out and eat dinner. My mom said she had a surprise for me and I was immediately hoping Pumpkin ice cream. But really, why would it be Pumpkin ice cream. I hadn't told her I wanted pumpkin ice cream...But obviously Mom's have psychic connections because...

Pumpkin Ice Cream!!!!!!!
Definitely made my night. I'd say my week but even I cannot claim ice cream beats out major job security. I am trying to stay focused on the baseball game on TV (Yankees vs. Twins...guess who I am rooting for?) and blogging so I do not go back for my third serving of Pumpkin Ice Cream ha ha.

The other night when I posted about how you eat, I got a lot of responses from women who eat quickly because they grew up in a big family and you want food, you go quick! This got me to thinking about how much our early influences with food shape who we are when we grow up. That's why I find it so scary when my kiddos at work eat some of the school lunches. Once they actually served "Nachos"- which was chips and dip for lunch! Now I love chips as much as the next person, but where are your nutrients? Kids need little protein and fiber in their lunch please, any meat with those chips? beans?

A big habit that is formed during childhood is the "Clean Plate Club." Fess up- who is a member? This is going to sound funny but I am sort of a member of the Anti- Clean Plate Club. I never noticed this about myself until I was in Australia. One day one of my friends pointed out that I always left a tiny bit of food on the plate when I was done in eating. She questioned if I possibly could be SO full that I couldn't eat that TINY piece of whatever was left. After that I started to notice that I do that all the time. Funny enough, I also do it in other areas of my life. I'll finish a paper except for proofreading, or except for the conclusion etc. I'm not sure if the food thing had to do with feeling like, "well at least I didn't FINISH the meal..." I'm really not sure. Now that I cook my own food, I portion control a lot more so I usually do finish every last bite of my meal. When I am out a restaurant and portions are *crazy* I like to play a little game. I leave enough left of my food that the waitress asks if I want to take the rest home. It's me vs. the waitress. If she asks if I want to take the food home, I win. If she doesn't, she wins. I win almost every time. Ah, the joy of competing with unsuspecting individuals...

It's safe to say I would be kicked out of the "Clean Plate Club" if they ever let me join. However, I know so many people who are serious members. I think it's okay (and good for your wallet) to finish your plate at home, assuming your are giving yourself a reasonable portion. However, I encourage you to join in my little game with the waitress when you are out at a restaurant. Some relatively healthy meals at restaurants have over 1,000 calories in them. You don't want to finish that! Besides, you'll be thanking me when you have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day :)

Are you a member of the "Clean Plate Club?" Why do you think you are, or are not? I think as a parent it must be really hard to try to steer your kids away from the "Clean Plate Club." On one hand, you want to instill good habits of eating until you are full but on the other hand, you probably do portion control the meals so you do want them to finish, and plus- you don't want to make dinner #2 in two hours. Do you have any tips for getting kids to eat all of their meal without leaving them with any long term feelings of "I have to clean my plate, there are starving children in the world!" ?


  1. Fantastic post!

    I've actually had to deal with this issue a few times in my life. First, my brother was born when I was 13, so I watched him grow up just as though I was his mom. My own mother never used to really push us to finish our whole plate, but normally it was because we always ate everything anyway. I figured out why, and it's because she always served smaller portions. That's the way to go!
    Second, with Nick I sometimes have to treat him like my child (not in a bad way, but you know..) when I serve him dinner. I learned from my mom and I always give him smaller portions, then he just gets more if he wants it. Actually, I ask him how hungry he is on a scale of 1 to 10. Then I serve him according to that!
    I will do the same thing with my children :)

  2. Hahahaha, omg I am sitting here laughing my butt off at the little game you play with the waitress, that is SO funny, but a good game.

    I'm kind of the opposite when I go out to eat, I do it so rarely and it can be so expensive that I usually tell myself I HAVE to finish every last bite because its a rare treat!! Sometimes if it's a really big meal I will take half home for the next day, though!

    I am definitely a member of the clean plate club :-( BUT I plan on raising my kids so they stop eating when they're FULL! Because I have been known to OVER stuff myself on numerous occasions, which really isn't good!

  3. Pumpkin ice cream?? That actually exists?? I wish we had some here! I definitely understand the "eat fast" club because of the big families... ALthough for me it was more "eat as much as you can" lol!

  4. I almost spat out the water I was drinking because I do the EXACT SAME THING at restaurants. Creepy...

  5. I am definitely a clean plate person - my parents made me sit at the table until I ate everything! Literally for hours on a sunday when we had roast dinner - I used to hate veggies! I got so that I saved the best till last... rather than eat all of the good stuff and be left with the stuff i didnt like, just in order to ensure that I could finish my plate. I try not to do this anymore and am much better at leaving food, especially in a restaurant. I think the biggest thing with my family was that it cost money and this was particularly the case when eating out - I would have been in big trouble if I had left food on my plate when eating out - good job we didnt do it often, lol.

  6. I love the idea of playing the game with the waitress! I am totally going to try that next time I go out!

  7. OH my gosh, pumpkin ice cream, yum!! that would make my night too :)
    Yes, I admit I'm a member of the clean plate club, but that's why I like eating at home so I can control portions. I don't know what it is but it's highly satisfying to finish things, but I try to remain conscious of my intake. If I eat out I make a pact with myself that I'm not going to eat it all or separate 1/2 of it in a to-go box first. Sometimes this doesn't work, but I really like your 'game', that's such a good idea!
    It is so sad what kids eat at school, no wonder they don't want to eat healthful meals because they're hyped up on that junk. I think it's also important to not let them have a giant glass of juice or milk before dinner. They will be hungry, eat what they want until they are comfortably full and won't have to be coerced to eat when they aren't hungry in the first place. Kids are funny though, going through grow spurts all the time can change the strength of their hunger/eating habits. It's important for them to recognize and for us to respect that satiety mechanism that they have. Great topic :)

  8. I'm definitely a member of the "clean plate club". As a child I was made to finish what was on my plate, no leaving anything behind. I never realized that it affected me as a grown up until I met my fiance 3 years ago and he mentioned how I never leave anything on my plate, it's always spotless. It's hard for me to leave food on my plate, most of the time I don't even realize what I'm doing.

  9. I am the president of the clean plate club, and proud!
    I guess mom didn't instill good habits in all of us.. haha : )

  10. I hate to say I am a member of the clean plate club. I have a hard time leaving food behind. Then again.... at home, I only serve myself what I am going to want. And I go out so rarely and it feels like such a treat, that eating the whole thing doesn't feel as bad.

    It's ironic that we worry so much about kids finishing their plates. Young kids know how much they want and stop when they're full....unless we tell them to clean their plates. They'll be back in 10 minutes or 2 hours when they're hungry again. It's only when they start getting bombarded with grown up attitudes around food that they start eating too much.

    Last thing.... Congratulations on your teaching status! I missed the last post.

  11. Oh yeah, Im defintly a member of the "Clean Plate Club" and I'm also a member of the "Go back for Seconds Club". I pay a large price for membership - which usually is in the form of extra lbs. But I love food and wont give it up. I'll just run more :)

  12. i was raised to be a member of the clean plate club, but i try not to do it now.. i serve myself based on how hungry i am then go from there! if i want seconds.. i go for it..

    i follow the 75% rule with Olivia, if most of it is gone, i consider her done with her meal.. unless... shes eating like.. an apple slice.. haha. she is a light eater anyway, so i dont push her to finish everything on her plate

  13. My husband is a firm believe in Cleaning your Plate - he says it's b/c his family didn't have much money when he grew up and he abhores waste.
    But my parents never bothered me about leaving food behind with meals. I prefer that - not forcing food.
    But, it's also good to teach kids not to take more than you can eat.

  14. I love this post! I also really like your "do you want a box" challenge. That is a great thing to keep in mind. I try to remind myself often that each plate is intended for a large, over-weight man not a girl trying to maintain a healthy weight.

  15. OMG if you love pumpkin ice cream you have to go to a place called Cravings. It's an old school ice cream shop in either Reading or Wakefield. I found it last year when I was preggers! Their pumpkin ice cream was AWESOME!!!

  16. i am not really a clean-plate clubber but if the food is good, i will often MAKE room for it. sigh.

    i definitely hoard food too... like if my mom makes me baked goodies when i'm home visiting, i kind of don't share them with anyone. i did grow up with 3 sisters, so i'm sure part of that comes from the "need" to claim food.