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Do you think that telling a child to eat all their food is bad for them?

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Old 01-18-2012, 02:21 PM   #1
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Default Do you think that telling a child to eat all their food is bad for them?

I was told this as a child, I think that's why I eat so much. I ate everything that was on my plate regardless of whether I was hungry or not because I was told to and over time I just got used to the amount.
I think it was made worse for me because my Dad and Mum ate large portions (being quite overweight themselves) and probably didn't know what was suitable so I was eating more or less adult portions as a child.
Even now I feel guilty if I leave food, I just think it's a waste.
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Old 01-18-2012, 02:36 PM   #2
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This one is really tough.

I have two sons. One is 15 and is very thin. He is naturally thin, but he also takes a ADHD medicine which is an appetite suppressant. So, we have to push him to eat during the week when he's not as hungry (at his doctor's insistence). We don't have to do that during weekends when he's off the drug.

My younger son is high functioning autistic. He doesn't want to try new foods and will stick with the same old stuff every meal, so we have to try tonpushnthe new foods which sometimes means asking him to eat more than he would if he had control.

With that said though, we watch. If my older son isn't encouraged to eat more healthy food at dinner, 30-45 minutes latere he's grabbing a less nutritious snack because he's hungry. Same with the younger one. If they get hungry a couple hours later and their weight seems stable, then our amount of pushing is probably right. If they don't seem to get hungry and we see weight gain, then we arer pushing too much food.

Honestly, I think you are darned if you do and darned if you don't as a parent. I think the most important thing a parent can do, above all else is to offe your child, from the beginning, healthy, nutritious foods so they develope a taste for it and prefer it over crap. But other than that.... Who knows what is best.
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Old 01-18-2012, 02:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bigkitty View Post
I think that's why I eat so much.
You know, your parents did their best.

Part of being a grown-up is accepting that your parents were flawed, and moving on.

You eat too much because you eat too much, not because It's All Mommy's Fault.
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:10 PM   #4
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I know, my Mum tried she always gave us veg but I'm just saying what I was taught as a child may have effected my weight. I'm trying smaller portion sizes now too so I'm full when I finish a meal rather than half way through. I find it helps because I've eaten everything on my plate but I didn't over eat.
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:15 PM   #5
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When you grow up with a mentality that you're done eating when your plate is empty, it IS tough to get past the "clean plate club."

I have struggled with this myself, I only put on my plate what I intend to eat and I practice leaving a few bites occasionally. I can see how using smaller plates would also be helpful.

Like any other habit, it can be broken. Now that you SEE the problem, work on fixing it!
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:32 PM   #6
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DH and I both grew up in households where the dinner was over when the plate was clean. Fortunately, DS12 is a healthy, experimental eater, so we can safely let him decide how much he wants to eat. The biggest adjustment is making sure he doesn't serve himself more than he will eat ... because Mom or Dad have strong tendencies to clean the plate for him while we're dealing with the dishes afterward! I really, really do not want him forcing himself to eat more than he needs - that habit caused me a lot of grief. Caveat: it would have been a different story if he were a picky eater or of abnormal weight. I am extremely fortunate!
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:34 PM   #7
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Kitty, my mom was like that, there was no argument allowed, we had to eat everything on our plate. It has only been in about the last 3-4 years that I allow myself to leave something on my plate or throw something out.
I don't agree with Maria,what we are taught as children stays with us Even when we are all grown up we remember what Mommy said.
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:43 PM   #8
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I think it's all relative. Like, my cousin's a fairly stocky girl, at eleven, and my uncle always got after her for not eating everything on her plate. The thing is, from age five and up, she's been given adult sized portions. In comparison, there's me, who never had anyone to show her when to stop, and my sister, who at eleven, is still being given toddler portions by her father, and she's like a string bean.
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Old 01-18-2012, 03:46 PM   #9
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Just as it's important to explore our eating habits, I think it's important to explore why we have these eating habits. A lot of times it boils down to how you were raised.

I too was raised in a house where we were told to clean our plates and forced to eat things we didn't want. I was yelled at for drinking too much water before a meal because that meant I would be full faster. I was yelled at because I ate too slow and was forced to choke down my meals.

Right now I struggle with not cleaning my plate and how fast I eat. I naturally had healthy habits but they were taken out of me by my upbringing. In exploring how I was raised, I've concluded that I probably wouldn't have had a weight issue had my parents just left me the eff alone.

I'm still angry about it, even though I've managed to get down to a healthy weight. There was no reason to FORCE me to eat if I was full. There was no reason to rush me along when I was eating at a perfectly healthy pace. I had to work hard to overcome a lifetime of bad habits, and I'm not sure I'll ever completely forgive my parents. They were good parents, sure, but that was a big mistake that shouldn't have been made, ESPECIALLY when they saw me gaining weight as a child.

I still live at home and I don't let my mom force things on me if I don't want them, which was a hard thing to do and I've only managed to do recently. If I say I have enough of a portion, she's great for putting more on my plate even if I don't want it. Before I probably would have just eaten it to be polite. Now if she does that I throw it back in the pot, plate, etc. She's yelled at me, but I just say "well I said that was enough. You didn't listen." I don't let her serve me any kind of desert, because if I tell her how much (say a sliver of it) she'll give me double. So I get it myself.

It's hard to overcome a lifetime of habits that were taught to you by your parents, but I think it's important to explore them to find out WHY you're the way you are.
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Old 01-18-2012, 04:58 PM   #10
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I don't think it's necessarily bad to tell a child to clean their plate, but if you are going to do that you need to be responsible about what and how much goes on the plate in the first place.

We do often tell our daughter to finish what she has or "take 3 more bites" because we know we are serving her healthy foods in proportions that are reasonable for an 8 year old. She's perfectly healthy, exactly in the middle of the healthy weight range for her age and height. She's also very active and we encourage that also.

If I saw her gaining unhealthy weight though, I would back off. As it is, I know usually she isn't actually full. She's just bored and wants to go play or just doesn't want to eat what we have. We will also often just pop the leftovers in the fridge and when she comes back "starving" in a hour because she didn't eat much dinner, we heat it back up. That way, we didn't force anything AND no waste!

We are actually very lucky, she's a great eater. She actually eats better than I do! Veggies are some of her favorite foods and she'd rather eat brussels sprouts (YUCK!) than pizza.
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:40 PM   #11
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I was yelled at because I ate too slow and was forced to choke down my meals.
Me too, I was the youngest and obviously the slowest but they made me eat faster, mainly so every one could leave the table.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:07 PM   #12
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There are so many damaging things that parents do in terms of healthy and diet. I never knew there was a problem when I was a kid though, I just thought that the world was unfair and I was cursed to be the fat kid. I didn't know anything about healthy eating or activity, because my parents didn't know anything about healthy eating or activity.

My parents are probably tired of my diatribes when I visit them, but I try to share with them what I have learned about eating healthy and being active. My mom has been off and on diets for 30 years, but doesn't take any of my advice to heart. I wish I could show her how life can be when you're not obsessed with food, but she has to make those changes for herself.

It makes me angry that my parents fed my brother and I the way that the did when we were kids. Everything my parents eat is processed, they deep fry a lot of things, meals never include a vegetable (well corn, potatoes, and french fries are vegetables in their books), meals are low in protein, fibre and nutrients, and usually topped off with ice cream. They also serve very small portions, which I know now looking back is the reason I was always hungry. When I visit them now I'm starving if I don't bring my own food with me. I remember as a kid always eating soooo fast because if you were done first you could get the last spoonful of something. It's funny how you end up fat by not eating enough when what you choose to eat is garbage.
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:42 AM   #13
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I think it's bad when their plate has been overloaded and/or contains more junk than healthy food. They should be taught what an appropriate portion size looks like and what is healthiest for them.

My parents never pushed my brother and I to clean our plates. Even still, weight is an issue in my family anyways due to lack of activity and eating all the wrong foods at all the wrong times in all the wrong ways. =/
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Old 01-21-2012, 06:59 AM   #14
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It makes me angry that my parents fed my brother and I the way that the did when we were kids. Everything my parents eat is processed, they deep fry a lot of things, meals never include a vegetable (well corn, potatoes, and french fries are vegetables in their books), meals are low in protein, fibre and nutrients, and usually topped off with ice cream. They also serve very small portions, which I know now looking back is the reason I was always hungry. When I visit them now I'm starving if I don't bring my own food with me. I remember as a kid always eating soooo fast because if you were done first you could get the last spoonful of something. It's funny how you end up fat by not eating enough when what you choose to eat is garbage.
My fiance doesn't have a weight problem, but this sounds like his house. Everything is processed and I avoid eating a meal from his house as much as possible. I grew up in a house where we had fresh things all the time, so I just can't stomach a lot of processed things

Also, one side of my family is of Italian descent. My fiance's mother uses store-bought sauce. Those of you who who are Italian know why I just can't eat things made with that sauce (I can't even stand the SMELL)

My fiance—because of me—is now angry at his parents for not buying REAL food. He's been introduced to just how good and healthy unprocessed food is and he rants that he can't get a freaking apple in his house because his parents don't have any. If he buys stuff, someone else eats it. It's frustrating for him...but at least I know that when we get married he won't want processed stuff in our house.
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:55 AM   #15
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I have 2 children ages 9 and 7. I have never made/told my children that they must eat everything on their plate. Both of my children are currently in the
50th percentile for weight. My parents always encouraged me to eat everything and let me have seconds of whatever I wanted and I have spent my whole life being overweight. I serve my children healthy meals and let them have occasional treats. My children are mostly water drinkers and can have a sprite here or there when at bday parties or out to dinner. I think it's important to teach kids to listen to their body cues. When your belly feels almost full then you are done. You do not have to eat everything on your plate. If my kids get hungry before bedtime they know they can grab a yogurt or some fruit. My kids are a normal weight. When I take them to school I am amazed at how many kids are overweight. My best friend encourages her kids to eat everything on their plates. 2 out of her 3 kids are overweight. For my kids, I prefer for them to listen to their body cues and if they need to eat 4-5 mini meals a day, that's ok with me.
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