Whether you're a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or even a babysitter, we all try to do the best we can for the children in our care. Let's think about meal times for a minute.
I have seen many instances of a child being told to "clean their plates" before they can leave the table. Seems harmless, right? I mean, everyone wants to make sure their child is getting enough to eat.
Well, there's several issues with this situation. First, it's programming the child to mindlessly eat the food in front of them as if it's a task. This takes the joy out of eating. It robs children of the experience of taste.
If children are taught that meals are just a chore to get through, they do not learn to appreciate the different flavors and textures, not to mention aromas of the foods in front of them. They can't develop a healthy admiration for the process of cooking and the culinary adventures that cooking produces.
The other grave issue with this mentality is that by forcing a child to eat everything, they are actually being taught to ignore their own hunger and full signals. Those signals are irrelevant if they have to stuff themselves silly every time they sit down to eat.
Is it really any mystery that there is an abundance of individuals who mindlessly eat processed foods and are overweight? If a child is taught to blindly eat whatever is on their plate until their plate is empty, why not go for the cheap, processed crap?
When we as a society diminish the value of quality food and listening to one's own bodily cues, we create a nation of robotic eaters who have been denied a healthy relationship with food. The ever-growing surge of diet cookbooks can attest to that fact.
Unless a child has special medical needs, they are perfectly capable of eating enough all on their own. Provide a balanced diet full of variety and they will flourish. I think this is one family argument that can be laid to rest.
Do you trust your child to eat as much as they need? Do you think children should eat everything on their plate?
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