Monday, August 18, 2014

The Clean Plate Club: Good or Bad?

Ahh tis’ that time of year again, back to school! How can I tell you may ask? Well between the backed up traffic/lack of parking spots on campus, dozens of annoying banks trying to get me to sign up for a credit card, and freshmen walking around like lost puppies sometimes with tears in their eyes, I think it’s a pretty safe bet. With the return of freshmen, comes the threat of the freshman 15. However, weight gain is not just limited to freshmen. Welcome to the process of aging my friends, where your metabolism starts to slow down and you can no longer eat or drink whatever you want without gaining weight! I decided to dedicate this blog to the clean plate club and how it can affect your waistline.  Without further ado…

As a child you probably have all been there; sitting at the dinner table staring at those peas on your plate and your father barking at you with the logical, “kids in Africa are staving so you will clean your plate,” or, “you are not leaving this table until your plate is clean.”   When you were a toddle you could get away with just throwing the peas on the ground, but once you reach a certain age it is not found to be quite as cute. Also not found as cute was my smart aleck response of…

I was just trying to show both my mastery of logic and giving, compassionate side, but that response never seemed to get me far. To my disadvantage in this situation, we were not allowed to have inside pets growing up (at least when my parents were home), so feeding the peas to the dog was not an option so I had to get creative. After carefully assessing the situation, my six-year-old self came up with two options. I would either A-shove them all in my mouth and run to the bathroom to spit them into the toilet or B-stealthily put them in a napkin and throw them away as quickly as possible. Did these tactics work? Maybe the first time or two, but unfortunately my parents caught on to these tactics pretty quick so I was forced back to square one: clean plate club. Looking back one of my brothers may have had a better strategy. After eating my father’s cupboard meatloaf, where he went through the cupboards and added whatever was stale to the meatloaf including but not limited to fruit loops, he made himself sick and was never again forced to eat meatloaf.  I hate to admit it, but he was on to something with that tactic.

You are probably all wondering where I am going with this about right now; so let me get to my point. As described above, most of us have been trained from childhood to “clean our plates.” Is this necessarily a bad thing? Does anybody doing the ice bucket challenge actually know what ALS stands for? No. However, research shows that typically people eat all of what they put on their plate. How can this be bad you ask? Well, let me give you another one of my scenarios. You have managed to survive your first couple of days at college living in a dorm X many hours away from mommy and daddy. You just had your first day of class and are overwhelmed and exhausted after crying yourself to sleep for the past three nights. All you want is some comfort food. You stroll up to the dish of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and pile it on your plate. (Consider yourself lucky; my father lives in Ohio so you can rest assured there are no fruit loops in it.) You sit down and start eating. Now for the tricky part, you get halfway through and realize that you are full but feel that you made a commitment to the food on your plate. You start to channel your inner Adam Richman. In the battle of (wo)man vs. food, you are  determined not to (wo)mankind down. You heroically battle forkful after forkful until your plate is clean. You triumphantly stand up on your chair and pump your fist in the air! Instead of being greeted with a round of applause and your picture on the wall or a free tshirt, you are greeted to the meat sweats, carb overload, extra calorie intake, and best of all weird looks from your new friends. You quickly get off of your chair and run back to your dorm room to put sweatpants on because you know in about 10 minutes you are going to want to explode. You probably all know where I am going with this on how it relates to nutrition, so I will just save it and share this picture instead.

Now, this whole clean plate concept doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing. Chances are it was some sort of fruit or vegetable that your parents were trying to shove down your throat. Now that you are a grown up and hopefully like fruits and vegetables, you can use this concept to your advantage to make yourself eat more of them. Load up your plate with fruits and veggies and voila! Its like magic, you eat more fruits and veggies due to your traumatizing childhood clean your plate mentality.

Other recent research shows that by you cleaning your plate, it does not actually help the starving kids in Africa in any way, shape, or form. You no longer have to feel bad about not cleaning your plate! Also, now that you are in college your parents can no longer force you to clean your plate! You can just eat until you are full and then stop. Your new hipster friends may judge you a little bit for being wasteful but oh well.

Another obvious tip to avoid this situation in the first place is to not put as much food on your plate; you can always go up for seconds after all. These tips will help you from feeling like Honey Boo Boo when your freshman year is over…
Next time you are eating think about if you are cleaning your plate because you are still hungry or if you are cleaning your plate just because. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go send my parents snapchats of half “clean” plates of food to spite them. Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


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