I remember being 8 years old at the dining room table and protesting dinner. I can still feel the looks of frustration from both of my parents as they sat and waited for me to finish my plate. I was a strong willed child, but as any parent attempting to teach a lesson…their wills were stronger. We had a rule growing up that you had to eat a little bit of every dish on the table for dinner and whatever touched your plate-you had to finish. It didn’t matter if you didn’t “like it.” There were no exceptions. EVER. I suppose being a member of a large, mid-western family (I was 1 of 5 kids) my parents had to be somewhat tough about their decisions and executing them, otherwise it proabably would have been mass chaos. I understand why they had the rules they did, but being 8 years old and stareing down a plate of fried liver and onions…was difficult. I wasn’t allowed to leave that table until I had finished (it all). Time dragged on and I was left at the table by myself with a cold plate of food and only my resolve to accompany me. In the end I chocked down the food and verbally protested it the entire time. Now, being a parent myself, I can only imagine how difficult it was to keep order in a large home and I can understand how “creative meal planning” might not have been my mothers top priority. My parents believed dinner served a few purposes;
- Brought the family together at the end of the day (with no exception).
- Was meant to be eaten for nutritional purposes and it was important to not be wasteful (you have a helping of each dish and had to eat everything on your plate).
- Had to include: protein, starch, vegetables and a large glass of milk (with no exception).
I’m glad for the rules and parameters that my parents raised me with. It has made me learn to appreciate balanced meals, time together as a family and also I’m the least picky eater (in the world). I’ll try anything, even if its something I don’t typically like, I will absouletly continue to try it when I come across it. I am extremely open minded with trying new things and love the creativity of experimenting.
Raising a child now, I use some of the principles I was raised with regarding dinner and trying new things…but I’ve created a few new additions to my list. I want my daughter to grow up being an open minded eater but I’m not going to arm wrestle her for it. LOL. Here’s a few of our family rules with regards to dinner:
- Its important to try a bite of everything on the table…but if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.
- When you’re full, you’re full…no clean plate needed. However if you don’t finish your dinner then its going in the fridge (in case later on you find yourself hungry…it will be waiting for you).
- Food is meant to provide us nutrition, but its also supposed to be enjoyable and taste good.
- Its all about the balance. Some nights need to be ‘clean eating nights’ so that it makes the the splurge nights “ok” for eating dishes with heavier sauces, fried food, or dessert (without the risk of gaining 300 lbs).
- If it doesn’t taste good, we aren’t going to eat it. Everything has a calorie count on it and if it doesn’t good, I’m not wasting my precious daily calories on it! Theres too many things in life that do taste good and are worth it!
For me, my personal view about food is that its meant to provide fuel for your body (its important to not eat a bunch of crap everyday) but food is meant to be fun, taste good and be enjoyed! There are so many wonderful flavors and tastes. Food I can not eat enough of: spicy Chinese rice bowls, savory Thai noodle plates, a good simple steak cooked medium, I could eat shell fish every day of my life with every meal, I adore delicious flavorful raw vegteables, I am the person who will drive 2 hours to get nationally acclaimed pulled pork, it doesn’t bother me to pay $5 for a lavender latte (that drink makes me ridiculously happy, every time I order it) and I believe that there should be dessert or something sweet…everyday!!!