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Making a happy plate?

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Old 04-30-2009, 04:53 PM   #1
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Default Making a happy plate?

My mind wanders to weird places late in the day...

My stepson is in daycare and has started coming home at night talking to us about making a 'happy plate' at lunch and dinner. Apparently a happy plate is an empty plate. So, this made me think... we as a culture have a problem with portion sizes. I know the daycare center doesn't over portion him, and we don't really either, but we aren't the only place where he gets his meals... What we are trying to do now is encourage the 'happy plate' to mean that he tried some of everything and stopped eating when he was full.

I remember my grandfather telling me I had to eat everything on my plate because somewhere little kids were starving and would love to have my brussel sprouts. I used to clean my plate at his house, and as an adult I tend to do the same thing, almost obsessively sometimes. Today, I weigh and measure everything, so I don't feel at risk from my own meals. I cut things up and put half or more in take out containers at restaurants before I start most of the time, otherwise I tend to overeat. My best friend is an overweight man and he recalls his mom telling him to eat everything before he could get up from the table.

So, do you think the 'clean your plate' mentality contributed to our increasing weight problem in America?
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Old 04-30-2009, 04:59 PM   #2
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I have a background in education and can tell you the term, "happy plate" is outdated and not really used among progressive schools..My daughters school doesn't do this..they also do not make the kids finish their main meal before treat time...I am good with this...I only allow her to get an ice cream on Friday..the rest of the week she totes her lunch with her...usually her treat is raisins or a rice krispy bar or berries or something

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Old 04-30-2009, 05:39 PM   #3
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Happy plate huh?? My plate is ALWAYS happy then!
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Old 04-30-2009, 05:44 PM   #4
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I can't speak for everybody else, but I can do so for my own case.
Just as you, I used to get the guilt trip about the starving children in Africa. As a result, it became the norm that all of us kids had to finish everything in our plate and not be wasteful no matter how big the portion..and the fact that I was a good eater anyway didn't help, so I gained weight.

Even to this day, even though I am working on it, I still feel very guilty throwing food into the garbage and I still see those little starving children in my mind.


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Old 04-30-2009, 05:55 PM   #5
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I definitely grew up with this mentality- but part of the problem was my mom would LOAD up my plate so instead of child sized portions I'd have just as much food as my mom did. And I cleaned up my plate every night. My sister (who is thin btw) would get scolded for not eating all her food- but would refuse to eat another bite when she was done.

I definitely never bug my husband or sister to finish their plates and when I have children I won't bug them to finish every bite.
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Old 04-30-2009, 05:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MrsPiggy View Post
Happy plate huh?? My plate is ALWAYS happy then!
I can just hear my plates giggling now.

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Old 04-30-2009, 06:31 PM   #7
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I don't know about happy plates, but my sister makes sure her toddler gets "happy sleep" (instead of "beauty sleep")
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Old 04-30-2009, 08:26 PM   #8
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When I saw the title...HAPPY PLATE....I assumed I was going to give my HAPPY PLATE...a plate full of pizza or Angie's HAPPY PLATE a balance of grilled chicken, rice and veggies.

I was fortunate enough to grow up with sensible but very middle class parents...well we thought we were middle...we may have been lower middle

We never had to eat all on our plate if we were not hungry for all of it. On the other hand we didn't have a lot extra either....but I can't recall ever going hungry and my buddies were always over at my house for dinner because my mom was a good cook.

With 4 kids in the family there were dinners from time to time that one of us didn't care for...we never had to eat it. My mom would make us something else...grilled cheese or something we liked....but never...never...kissing our butt either. For the most part dinner was dinner...and you eat it at dinner time...

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Old 04-30-2009, 08:53 PM   #9
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My parents tried to be sensible, I think. We served ourselves and were encouraged not to take more than we would eat, and had to eat at least one bite of everything that was offered (I hated beets, and would eat my one slice by swallowing it whole, or by cutting it into very small bites and wrapping it in mashed potatoes).

I think my parents didn't know what to do with me, because unlike anyone else in our family (my brother and I are adopted, non-biologically related). My brother had the metabolism of a humming bird (and he was always moving like one, too). Even in grade school, he ate as much as my dad, and yet was very thin, gangly even. He ate a lot, but burned what he ate.

I was always hungry, so I don't think they knew how to help me eat right (and maybe there wasn't a way, because too much or too little control, both backfired, and I snuck food if I didn't have permission).

I do find myself having to remind myself not to "save the best for last," on my plate. Desserts were very rare when I was growing up. Mostly only on holidays would dessert be part of the meal, except once in a while maybe some jello. There were some bad family eating habits, but I think that most of my problems were uniquely mine, since my brother and two younger sisters had no weight issues as children (my sisters are my parents bio-kids and one has taken after our mom, and one after our dad in terms of eating, exercise and weight issues).

I do think a "clean plate" policy can create bad habits, but I also know many people who never had a weight issue who were raised with it. I can't say that my parents meal rules were responsible for my weight issues - I don't think it's ever that simple. Instead, there are a thousand variables that combine to create weight problems.
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Old 04-30-2009, 09:00 PM   #10
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I also have vivid "starving children" tapes running through my brain every time I leave food in a restaurant!

I think food as a reward was more damaging to me than the clean plate rules of my youth.

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Old 04-30-2009, 09:05 PM   #11
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This is a touchy subject in our house with my husband and I. He is more of a "clean your plate", "you can't eat this unless you eat that first" kind of person and I prefer to let my daughter choose how much and of what she will eat. There are limits to that, but you get the drift.

It's hard to break the habits that our parents instilled in us. My mom was/is a person who hates having leftovers so even 'till this day when I am at her house if I take a comfortable portion of food and finish it then she will automatically start trying to load me up with more. Why? Because there is some left and she doesn't want any left. There is no regard for if I am still hungry or not. She knows I struggle with my weight, yet does it anyway. I find the "happy plate" interesting and would be a bit uncomfortable with that if my daughter's school did that. However, they won't let her have a treat if she doesn't eat the rest of her lunch first and I'm not fond of that either.

In the end, this mentality is everywhere and I guess it's up to us as parents to make sure that our kids know how to listen to their bodies and eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.
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Old 04-30-2009, 09:19 PM   #12
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My parents are also this way--they believe you have to load your plate to the brim and eat every morsel there or else, you are a freak of nature. 9 out of us 10 kids are overweight or obese because of it too!

"Be who you are, say what you feel. Those who matter, don't mind. Those who mind, don't matter." --Dr. Seuss
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Old 04-30-2009, 09:29 PM   #13
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Interesting discussion.

My parents had a "clean your plate or no dessert" policy, but they also made us choose how much food went on the plate. Much more than "clean your plate" I visualize my mother warning me against "Big Eyes" ie don't let your serving be bigger than you're hungry for.

Between my two sisters and I, I'm the only one with a weight problem.

My boyfriend OTOH, constantly struggles with his compulsion to eat everything on his plate.
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Old 05-01-2009, 03:03 AM   #14
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My parents had a "clean your plate or no dessert" policy, but they also made us choose how much food went on the plate. Much more than "clean your plate" I visualize my mother warning me against "Big Eyes" ie don't let your serving be bigger than you're hungry for.
Yeah, same with mine. I understand wanting a kid to eat their veggies before they get dessert, because otherwise they probably won't eat the veggies at all (I was a freak and liked veggies best though), but again, I imagine the school gives them all the same amount, and even kids differ on their caloric needs and how much they want to eat.

My plate is always happy and that's why I'm overweight, haha. Seriously though, I feel bad about leaving anything too. It wasn't my parents so much as my grandparents who were always going on to me about that, and would load up my plate. Even now I tend to finish everything even though I paid for it and could very well throw it away (certainly, I waste money in other ways).
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Old 05-01-2009, 07:09 AM   #15
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Absolutely. I think the "clean your plate" concept destroys a person's natural ability to stop when they are full---maybe some people are born without that ability, but I know mine was destroyed by that thinking. I HATE that policy and I would so be at that school up in arms.
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