You know that little voice in the back of your head? The one that — when no one else is around to criticize — just can’t wait to tell you how you’re screwing up?
Yeah, that voice sucks. And it’s pretty stupid, too. At least 90% of what it says is clichés, about half is old wives’ tales. Some of it is harmless, like, “Don’t go swimming for an hour after eating.” It doesn’t really matter, but it’s not going to hurt you much if you follow that one.
Some of it though, you really need to ignore. That’ll be easier if you have some snappy comebacks. Here, try these:
Clean your plate. — Okay, where’s the Palmolive?
Starving children in Africa would love to have that. — I didn’t realize there was a shortage of overcooked liver anywhere.
Just salad isn’t a balanced meal, have a potato. — Good thing I’m not in a high-wire act, or that unbalanced meal could kill me.
How can you have any cake if you don’t eat your meat? — All we are is just another brick in the wall.
Notice the pattern? That’s our mothers passing on their Depression-era mothers’ rules about not wasting food. (And a line from The Wall. Just seeing if you’re paying attention.)
You don’t need help eating more
Society is filled with tricks designed to get us to consume more. More food, more cars, more everything. Let your inner voice tell you that you “should” eat more and you’re laying a guilt trip on yourself that mothers use on picky eaters.
That guilt trip goes back way before the Depression. I’ll bet if you could find a DVD of ancient Greek TV shows you’d see mothers telling their kids to eat their feta. Seriously, one of the oldest translated documents was some Sumerian guy 4,000 years ago bitching about “kids these days got no respect.”
But what’s so bad about cleaning your plate?
Do you watch the nightly news? Ever notice how every day it takes exactly 24 minutes to tell you everything that happened that day? They never wrap up at 11:15 and say, “Well, it was a slow news day. We’ll play some music for you while you wait for Colbert to start.”
We like to consume things — time slots, closet space, burgers — in whole serving sizes. We like to “finish”. But we totally suck at judging whether the serving size makes any sense. When those researchers gave out monster tubs of crappy popcorn, people ate way more than when they got small containers of the same thing.
Every now and then you should notice you’re not hungry any more while you’ve still got food on your plate. You’ve got my permission to not eat it. Don’t listen to that little voice telling you that you’ve got to clean your plate. Listening to the voices in your head sets a bad precedent.