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Do You Still Believe What Your Parents Told You About Food?

By Wendy Irvine April 27, 2024 Health and Fitness

Many of us were raised by survivors of the Great Depression. My grandma once told me, “We were hungry, but your grandfather’s family was starving.”

Which explains why the man would eat anything put before him. Clearly, he did not belong to the group who’d have much to say about how to decrease one’s eating after age 50.

So it’s no shocker that our parents merely passed on to us what they’d heard at their dinner table as kids:

  • You’ll ruin your appetite if you eat too close to dinner.
  • Don’t waste food!
  • Clean your plate.
  • You’ll sit at this table until your meal is finished.
  • Come and get it while it’s hot! You don’t want your food to get cold!! – my dad’s favorite.

Our parents meant well, but they sure weren’t prepping us for the food-porn world in which we’d soon find ourselves.

I Can See Clearly Now

Today, after decades of living in our culture, we’re older, wiser and nobody need explain to us that losing weight and maintaining after age 50 is no picnic.

It’s insanely hard, and we know it, thanks.

But here’s the amazing news: you and I are living in an era where learning to lose and maintain after 50 is actually a thing.

Maybe our grandmas didn’t have the info, but our generation is dialed in.

After a lifetime of being heavy, I lost weight in my 40s and have maintained the loss for 16 years now. I’m 57 today.

I did it.

You can do it.

And then it’s on us to tell the next generation. (So keep good notes.)

Let’s begin by modernizing those vintage food admonitions.

Take “you’ll ruin your appetite if you eat too close to dinner.” One of the (gazillion) ways that I learned to engage with food when I was losing (and today maintaining) was to eat a tiny meal before eating.

Thereby “ruining” my meal which was/is exactly my intent.

I rarely sit down to a large meal of any kind before I have a tiny-meal in advance like an apple with a teaspoon of peanut butter, a small banana, or a hardboiled egg.

If I’m really strapped for time, I spoon peanut butter straight from the fridge knowing that it’ll hold me for an hour. (Sorry Mom.)

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Losing weight today is – thankfully – different from when we were young. For starters, you and I aren’t trying to look like Cher or become ultra-thin to fit in with the clique at school.

We’re older. We’re wiser. Twiggy’s days are in our culture’s past and have no bearing on this new era where health reigns supreme.

Today we want to have as much control over our health as possible. For example, I know three people who were told by their surgeons to lose weight or their surgery couldn’t be scheduled.

I know others whose weight led to heart problems, diabetes, gallbladder disease and so forth.

And I know a woman who had never, ever been thin and merely wanted the fun of wearing cute clothes. Okay, this is me. My little (literally) sister had the coolest wardrobe growing up while I wore whatever fit; which wasn’t much.

It’s My Party and I’ll Eat What I Want to

In today’s food-world it’s like we face the perfect storm. We live in a calories-on-steroids culture, were born to people whose own parents were severely traumatized by the Depression, and grew up in the era when teeny-tiny wraith women were celebrated.

Not to mention that we’re over age 50 which is when losing weight and maintaining is the most difficult for any age group.

So of course we struggle with food.

But, all that said, learning to navigate the storm is absolutely possible. So back to updating the admonitions from the olden days (use the following liberally and on a daily basis):

  • My tummy is not a trash can!
  • I never eat on large dinner plates anymore, so my portion sizes are always smaller.
  • I “ruin” my meals all the time by eating a tiny-meal first.

After a lifetime of weight, I’ve lost and maintained into my late 50s. “Ruining my appetite” is one of my best tricks going.

Join me in wrecking your meals today.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What did your parents tell you about the evening meal? Did your folks change with the times, or did they stay rooted firmly in admonitions of the past? What was their message in general about food? How do you “talk” to yourself today about food and finishing everything in your plate?

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Mom was a terrible cook. We were made to eat everything on our plate. As a result, I didn’t like eating. That changed when I married and made my own delicious food.


Lord, the eat everything on your plate directive.My parents would say that to my sister and my mom was a decent cook, so I was happy to clean Shelby’s plate too We had to do it on the sly or parents would erupt. So cool that you cook delirious food.Join us at :)


The world has become a completely different place now. Food is plentiful. We no longer have to physically work so hard for it (in many cases). We eat constantly, rather than at structured meals. So many of us no longer recognize fullness cues from our bodies. Many of us rarely feel hunger. I can remember feeling hunger tinges prior to each meal since no one ate between meals. This didn’t cause me to overeat. I always ‘ate like a bird’ or so I was told. Food was placed on the table, family style, in large bowls or on plates so we could help ourselves. We were taught to take only what we could eat. If we wanted more, then we could have more. We learned to judge our hunger. Now Food is given to us in large portions to accommodate the largest eaters. Food was never wasted. Leftovers were refrigerated and served at other meals as leftovers. I was fortunate to not have parents who forced me to clean up my plate, and I’ve never done the same. In the evening, there’d be a snack, which could be a large bowl of freshly made buttered popcorn or a bag of chips, or nuts, which we had to Crack open. But these were put in a large bowl and shared by everyone. Now everyone gets their large individual snack whenever they choose.


Your parents were way ahead of the times!


so many great turns of phrases in this -‘food-porn world’ – lmoao (laugh my old ass off – ha)

i love the validation it gave me in my own journey with this


Thank you so much Beth! I’m so glad you laughed your ass off!! (That’s a way to lose weight that I hadn’t thought of.) :) If you haven’t already joined, please do! Totally free and a different way to lose for a lifetime.

The Author

Wendy Irvine knows the difficulty of losing and maintaining weight, post menopause. After a lifetime of struggle, she lost 55lbs. in her 40s, and maintains the loss 17 years later (she’s currently 59). For the granular how-to, please visit her website.

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