Just because it’s on my plate, doesn’t mean it needs to go into my mouth.

Published August 17, 2013 by Crystal

Do you like my pithy title for this blog entry?  I could not think of a clearer, more concise way to say it without causing possible confusion.

Today I have decided to start a little experiment for myself.  At every meal time, every single one, whether at home, at friends, or at restaurant, I will focus on leaving something on the plate, at least a mouthful’s worth.  You see, I was brought up in the “clean plate club”. My family believed that a clean plate would somehow save the world!  “Think of the starving in Ethiopia!” would be the phrase that would ring out, should my six year old self leave anything more than crumbs on the plate.  Slowly, mealtime by mealtime I learned it was unacceptable to leave food on the plate, no matter what my personal hunger or satiety was telling me.

Over recent years I’ve been given some GREAT phrases, that have helped my think about food left at mealtimes.  “Waist, not waste”  and “You are not a human dustbin” are a couple of my favourites.  And quite frankly, how is my clearing my plate ever going to help those in the third world?

But they’ve never fully managed to break through the rock solid membership of the “Clean Plate Club”.  I know I’m not alone, there seem to be several post WWII generations that have been brought up like this.  Food was put before you and you appreciated and ate it, you were lucky to have this food, and must show your gratitude by eating it.  Food was scarce, mealtimes providing energy to fight the fight and bring the country to victory.  Posters such as the one below must have spoken volumes to families struggling to feed their families.

The thing is, how can you possibly listen to your hunger when people are telling you you must clean your plate?  Of course, as an adult you can serve yourself, give yourself smaller portions so the need to leave food on your plate isn’t there, but at other times, when people serve you, that option is taken away.

Hence, my experiment.

Leaving food on my plate, indicating to myself that this is acceptable and I am not a human waste disposal unit.


Feel free to join in, and share your experiences!


A wartime poster, is this why the clean plate club started?

A wartime poster, is this why the clean plate club started?



3 comments on “Just because it’s on my plate, doesn’t mean it needs to go into my mouth.

  • I also heard the comment that I must eat the fat off the meat, which I always left, in order that I would not have hollow eyes. Plus, eating some things would give me a bust! I was probably not into puberty at that point.
    I make sure I don’t say the same things to my children, if they leave food, they have had enough.
    I was also fed with risks crumbled up in my milk – talk about being force fed!
    Still, I hate to see food left, and will eat all kinds of left overs rather than throw them away!

    • I hate to see food left too, so i consciously give myself less. And i love leftovers for breakfast! Thing always taste better the next day xxx

  • I am learning by observing kids… my 4 yr old grandchild simply stops when she’s had enough. If she really likes it, she wants it saved for later. So I tell myself that it is ok to save it for later, even if it is a little bit. Odds are, just as she does, I forget about it… so my “laters” go into the fridge in small baggies to make it easy to toss out when I clean out the fridge. Kind of goofy, but sometimes it it easier to toss out later when the desire to eat it has passed.

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