I love food. Don’t you? Some express their love toward others through food. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend learning about the 5 Love Languages to understand other people in your life better. You may discover how some people prefer mostly gift giving, quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation or acts of service to show they care. Someone that prefers acts of service, for example, might prefer a meal cooked for them and dishes cleaned up after the meal instead of getting a gift.
Some may take that a step further by plating the food for the other person. I have heard how this can be an expression of love for some of my clients. As lovely as it sounds, plating food for others may lead to overeating. Has anyone ever ordered food for you making you feel obligated to eat it? We are more likely to plate more food on someone else’s plate compared to the amount they would plate themselves. This would be okay if we would stop eating when full. However, many of us eat until the food is gone (aka Clean Plate Club).
You might be wondering, what about plating food for my kids? It may seem strange; but yes, even a 3-year-old can plate his/her own food. This approach is especially useful for those picky eaters (see my October blog post, “Just Take A Bite”). Kids may get excited about putting peas on their plate and therefore, more likely to eat them. If this is new territory, I would suggest starting with family-style meals. This is when food is brought to the table (or picnic blanket) and passed around to the family members to allow each person to decide how much food to put on their plate.
Not enough room at the table? Consider a mixed approach where the fruit bowl, vegetables, and bread basket are brought to the table, and the main entree is at the stove or counter. This would still allow family members to decide how much and whether to eat the food that is offered. Less pressure around food and meals increases the enjoyment of being around family. Show your love for each other by having family meals more often.