It’s funny how your upbringing, or the way you’ve raised your children, comes back to bite you sometimes, especially when it comes to food.
I was brought up never to worry about leaving food on my plate if I didn’t want it. My mother Dot often went short of food as a child, and so made up for it by putting all manner of foods in front of me. However, I was a strong-willed, fussy child and refused to eat much. Sam as a boy had to empty every scrap of food from his plate even if he was full up, and had to sit at the table until all the food had been eaten (he soon learned to chuck it out of the window on the rare occasions when his mother wasn’t looking!). This had an unfortunate drawback; Sam, his parents, and his sisters all became overweight, and it was only on leaving home that Sam could take control of his food intake and lose a few stones. He also can never face Brussel sprouts again.
On the other hand, Dot had no qualms about throwing food away. Out of the fridge would go anything uncooked from the week before, whereas Sam and his sisters had eaten everything in their household! I followed Dot, and to me it’s not the end of the world if somebody leaves food on their plate or throws something away out of the fridge. So what? Yeah, half the world is starving, but it’s not my fault just because I’ve left a roast potato on my plate. I cannot eat if I’m full up, and so do not expect anybody else to either if they’re sitting at my table.
Our youngest son Marcus was a terribly fussy eater as a child, and always left food on his plate. However, now he eats anything and everything and cannot bear to see food wasted. If we go out to dinner at a restaurant and any of the family leaves food on their plates, he goes round the table and eats everything up! He also makes sure that no food at his home is ever thrown away. I suppose now he’s paying for his family’s food, he has a totally different viewpoint.
This trait came to the fore when we organised a party for his 30th birthday a couple of years’ ago in the village hall. There was food left over at the end of the evening, and Marc took it all home in a black sack, put it in his fridge, and carried on eating it until it was all gone, giving himself diarrhoea in the process due to a dodgy prawn vol-au-vent or twelve. When he asked for my magic brown mixture two weeks’ later I nearly fell off my chair in surprise that he was still eating stuff from a fortnight before.
Perhaps my lackadaisical attitude towards left over food has caused Marc to rebel? Sam hates to see anything thrown away too, and has even been known to get food out of the bin if I’ve chucked it out. These days I usually make sure he’s not about if I want to clear out the fridge. I cannot understand the obsession with eating everything up, as I wasn’t brought up that way.
I always remember the first dinner my mother-in-law cooked for me. There was far too much food on the plate, and I left about a quarter of it. I had an inkling that World War 3 was about to start by the thunderous look on her face, but I was full up and that was that. Sam had been given enough food to feed 3 men, but still ploughed through it even though he hadn’t eaten big meals like that for several years. Mother-in-law and I stared each other out, but I was resolute in my determination not to give in!
Did you have to eat everything on your plate as a child? Even as a 5 year old, nobody could have made me eat what I didn’t want to. To me, forcing a kid to eat against its will is tantamount to child cruelty.
Fortunately for the people I feed, I don’t see it as a rejection of me if they leave food or that they’re doing it on purpose because they don’t love me. I’m sure they do, it’s probably just because they’re full up!