Division of Responsibility

Just Say “No” to the Clean Plate Club!

plate stacks

There is a whole generation of adults that have been scarred by the Clean Plate Club. I know, as parents, it is easy to follow the example of your parents. But if your parents followed the Clean Plate rule, I would strongly advice that you break away from tradition in this case! Here are a few reasons why:

  • The Clean Plate Club overrides a child’s own bodily cues of hunger and fullness. In my outpatient dietitian days, I consistently ran into ‘Clean Plate kids’ now full grown adults with difficulties in overeating. When kids are forced to eat beyond the point of full, they learn to ignore the sensations altogether. Eventually, they won’t remember what the sensations feel like anymore. And so begins a lifetime of overeating.
  • The Clean Plate Club puts parents in charge of how much to eat instead of the child. Kids know best!
  • The Clean Plate Club makes meals a battleground. The family dinner table should be a pleasant place to come and eat. This is where meaningful discussions are had and strong parent-child connections are made. If there is a power-struggle afoot, it will not make for a pleasant experience.
  • The Clean Plate Club does not show kids that parents trust them.
  • The Clean Plate Club sends the message that a child’s body is not to be trusted either.
  • The Clean Plate Club expects kids to be 100% accurate at taking what they are hungry for… assuming they are plating their own food. If parents are serving up portion sizes, then kids are pressured to consume what the adult thinks they are hungry for. In the early years, the dinner table is a place to practice skills – no one starts out perfect.
  • Children will eat what they need. If the primary purpose of a family meal is to connect and eat as a family, stellar nutrition will follow.

Don’t know how to let go of the reigns and let your child eat how much they need? Email me, I’d love to talk about it!


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