Healthy Habits Bingo

Let’s Talk about the Clean Plate Club

#eatinghabits #healthyeating #healthyhabits #mealplanning Jul 21, 2022

by Shannon Martin MPH, RDN

So many adults that we meet belong to the "Clean Plate" club. Are you a member?  The Clean Plate stems from well-meaning parents who taught you to finish your meal, your entire meal and not to let food go to waste. You might have heard,


Babies are born knowing when to eat and when to stop eating. But well-intentioned adults teach infants to keep eating beyond being full. Babies are encouraged to finish a bottle even when they have stopped eating. Young children often eat because of the family schedule or what time it is and not due to hunger. All of these experiences teach us to ignore hunger and fullness cues. 

What can you do for yourself and your child to regain mindfulness when it comes to eating?

1. Eat slowly.

It should take 20 minutes to eat a meal. This gives your brain and stomach a chance to communicate how full your stomach is. If it takes you less than 20 minutes to eat, use one of these strategies to slow down. 

  • Take small bites. 
  • Chew slowly. 
  • Eat with your non-dominant hand. 
  • Put your utensil down between bites. 

2. Rate your hunger before and after meals.

Pay attention to what it feels like to be hungry and to be full. If you have ignored these feelings for most of your life it may take awhile to recognize them. Think about your hunger and how it changes as you eat. Make it a goal to stop when you’re comfortably full and will remain full for 3-4 hours without being uncomfortably full.

3. Savor Food. Enjoy your food.

Use your 5 senses while eating. Look at your food. Smell it. Notice textures. Taste your Food.

4. Eat without distraction.

Eat at a table without any screen for distraction.

As adults we have the ability to teach our kids the importance of honoring our bodies and our hunger. We need to teach our children to eat when hungry and stop when full. We should respect their choice to stop eating before the plate is clean. We should serve smaller portions if leaving food on the plate is occurring and causing problems for any family member. 

Let's stop adding members to the Clean Plate Club!


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