Like many, many kids who grew up in the Midwest, my family had a ‘clean your plate’ dinner policy.
I was encouraged to try two bites of everything and wasn’t allowed to leave the table till those two bites of panfried sunfish and green beans made their way down my gullet.
It was a super common approach to eating and child-rearing and probably a good one for me. Left to my own devices, I would have survived solely on spoonfuls of peanut butter and noodles bathed in margarine and powdery Parmesan cheese.
But these days, I cook for myself (even though I’d still happily live on peanut butter and noodles) and I seem to have printed that ‘clean your plate’ policy onto the very marrow of my bones.
Raise your coffee cup if you’ve ever done any of these:
eaten three meals of leftover lasagna (that you didn’t even like the first time around) because you didn’t want to waste it
brought home the extra lemon bars from the school bake sale – because otherwise they’d just go in the trash
made a meal of what your friends/kids/partner couldn’t finish at the restaurant – a lovely dinner of fish sticks, tomatoes pulled off the salad, and half a bowl of soup.
I’m such a non-waster that this policy has trickled over into all the other areas of my life.
Someone gives me a scented candle I don’t really like? Guess my apartment smells like grandma roses for the next two months.
I buy some $5 shampoo that makes my hair weird? I’ve got new volumizing, shine-improving body wash, apparently.
Bought some bitters for one specific cocktail recipe? Welp, everything has bitters now (even though I don’t really like them).
While there is definitely something to be said for consciously consuming things, using everything down to the very last drop and licking the proverbial plate clean, let us also remember:
If you’ve got pan full of roasted potatoes you’re not particularly into, you’re not contractually obligated to finish them.
You can bring them into work and leave them in the break room. You could put them in a Ziploc bag and give them to a homeless person. You could dump them in the ever loving compost bin.
The world will not end if you don’t eat every single thing, ever.
If your new, expensive makeup primer somehow makes your skin shinier, you don’t have to keep periodically re-trying it, hoping something’s changed. (Am I the only one who does this?) You could pass it along to a friend who has a different skin type. Or you can just wash the bottle out and recycle it.
We all deserve healthy, delicious food that we actually like and meals we made on purpose. We deserve shampoo that makes our hair bouncy and makeup we actively chose – rather than what came in the freebie bag.
I’m still working on ‘treating my body like a temple’ but I think not treating it like a garbage can is big step in the right direction.
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