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“Eat your plate, or you won’t get dessert. I’m sure you’ll recognize them. Or this one: Children in Africa have nothing to eat, so be glad that you have so much to eat. Another classic: ‘Grandma was always hungry during the war’. These are typical examples of sentences that we use(s) to make sure that children eat their plates empty.

A study by the ‘International Journal of Obesity’ shows that 92% of the adults eat their plates completely empty.

It’s rude not to eat your plateā€¦

It feels rude to the cook who has gone to a lot of trouble to cook so good for me. So it often happens to me that I apologize in a restaurant if I haven’t eaten everything. I say that it was very good, but that it was really too much for me! Isn’t it weird that I say this when I didn’t brag about it myself and pay for my meal myself? But a long time ago I learned that I have to empty my plate!

Punishing and rewarding is counterproductive

I had to eat my plate empty and passed it on to my children, just because I didn’t know any better. Out of love for my daughters, I let them eat more than they could possibly eat. Luckily I now know how important it is that as a child, and also as an adult, you learn to feel and listen to your body to see if it has been enough. So punishing or rewarding with dessert is counterproductive!

Eating slowly and chewing quietly

It is therefore necessary to learn to feel how full you are by eating slower: Slow eating means that you chew 20-30 times on 1 bite! So if you chew on a bite for a long time, it also takes longer to eat your meal. And if you take longer to complete your meal, you’ll feel better at the saturation point and get the ‘stop eating’ signal. Usually this is after about 20 minutes. So know that taking longer to complete your meal will help you feel satiation. Chewing slowly is also much better for your digestion. Nutrition is better digested and better absorbed in your body cells.

Smaller stomach, more saturated

Even if they are not physically present, you can still hear ‘eat your plate empty’. Realize that it was lovingly meant to teach you how to eat as a child, but that you are now an adult and can very well decide for yourself about this. If you often eat beyond your saturation point, your stomach will start to stretch by itself, so that you can eat more again. Eating slower, so you eat less and shrink your stomach again. A smaller stomach also gives a feeling of satiety. So you eat less the next time you go out to dinner.

Listen to your own voice

So check with yourself when you eat your plate empty, what are the voices in your head that make sure you keep eating. Do you hear like me your mother telling you to empty your plate because there are children in Africa who have nothing to eat? Or did you hear that you had to eat well because it made you grow? Whatever it is, you realize it’s not your voice talking to you! It’s an ingrained and learned habit that you can change. You do this by listening to the only one who knows if you’ve eaten enough: you yourself!