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Opening Arguments

My plate is not full

Kids fat? Well, just stop trying to make them feel guilty for not cleaning their plate:

MONDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- Although you might think being a member of the "clean plate club" is something that stops when a child is young, new research suggests that up to two-thirds of parents still encourage teenagers to finish all the food on their plates, even if the teen is overweight.

The study found that the use of controlling food behaviors was common in parents of adolescents, with some parents pressuring their kids to eat more and others pressuring their kids to eat less.

Not surprisingly, restrictive behaviors were more common in parents of children who were overweight or obese, while pressure-to-eat behaviors were more common in children who weren't overweight.

I got the "starving kids in India' argument from my mother whenever I had trouble finishing a meal -- I'm sure a lot of you heard some version of it growing up. I never understood it. How was my eating all my food going to help starving kids anywhere? If I don't finish, there's an outside chance some of that food might end up on somebody else's plate.

I had a friend in Michigan City who tried about everything to lose weight. He finally succeeded when he simply decidied to stop eating when he was no longer hungry, discovering when he did that a lot of his eating was just "clean the plate" habit. So as he lost weight, his eating habits changed and he bought less food in the first place, which meant more left in the stores that could eventually find its way to the plate of someone needier, maybe even a starving kid in India.

Food is still plentiful for most of us in this country and relatively cheap. Don't feel guilty. Just get up from the table and walk away. Buy less food. Use some of the money you save to donate to a pantry or soup kitchen.