RANT: Happy Plates

Are we taught from an early age not to waste food? My husband was told clean his plate as a child because of the “starving Armenians”.  My mother actually used to tell us: “It’s just as wasted if you don’t want it”. Isn’t it? But I do want it. Don’t I?

I remember when my fantabulous step-mother came aboard, the dinner menu changed, and for the better. Instead of the Budget Gourmet frozen dinners or all-you-can-eat yeast rolls at Quincy’s steak house that my previously single and culinarily challenged Dad treated me to, we were getting Chicken Divan and Pesto Linguine. These were new unfamiliar creations for me and they were De-lish!

I didn’t need to learn the catchy term my new little brothers and sister used: “make a Happy Plate!”.  A “happy plate” was a clean, EMPTY plate. It was ‘happy” and I was happy to sop up every noodle and drop of that pesto!  I’m sure my ‘other mother’ was happy to not have to clean 6 plates, instead, slipping the mess-free discs neatly in to the dishwasher.

But does the happy plate or being a member of the “clean plate club” really teach us to eat healthfully?  We tell kids to finish that hot dog” [a meat tube made of pig parts] and that mac-n-cheese [synthetic fluorescent orange noodle dish] only then can you stuff a bowl of cold creamy sugar with candy bars smashed up in it in your mouth!

I now know the happiest plate is one filled with nutrient rich foods.  Foods that support health, normalize mood swings, and fight disease.  While I do like to discourage waste, perhaps we should also teach our kids to recognize when they are full and to save what they don’t want for later.  After eating their fruits and vegetables first, of course!

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Madeleine Vanstory attended Duke University and began her post-graduate journey at The Elaine Clark Center working with special needs children. She went on to work as a Clinical Research Scientist running clinical trials for the CDC and developing medical devices for Welsh Allen, Abbot Labs, Roche and Johnson & Jonhson Her work included non-invansive cervical cancer detection, continuous diabetic glucose monitoring, non-harmful infant bilirubin level detection and studying Vitamin C's anti-aging effects on the skin. Madeleine attended Medical school at The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed a residency in Family Medicine at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro NC. Dr. Madeleine Vanstory is a board certified Family Physician who has practiced all over the world. She has lead medical missions in Kenya and Honduras. She has participated with Operation Smile in Russia, she has patients in North Carolina, Maine, Oregon and New Zealand. Dr. Vanstory has worked the medical tents in the Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC and at the Kona Ironman World Championships. And Dr. Vanstory has marched with the Surgeon General promoting "Exercise is Medicine" at the World Congress Sports Medicine Conference. Disillusioned by the current health care system and armed with the realization that culture, nutrition and emotional well-being have a profound impact on health, Dr. Vanstory now motivates clients and patients to discover the healthiest versions of themselves through humor, counseling in her "Upgrade Your Health" Wellness Program.

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