Clean Plate Club -Not On Same Page

posted 10 months ago in Family
Post # 16
1361 posts
Bumble bee

What your husband is doing is wrong. Force feeding people leads to eating disorders, inability to discern hunger and fullness cues, and obesity. If I were you I would make an appointment with a nutritionist and take him there with me so that he can be schooled by a professional.

Post # 17
475 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2021 - Boulder, Colorado

I was raised with the “clean plate” philosophy. Logically I know that it’s better for food to stay outside my body rather than making me feel sick, but I still have issues with overeating because it feels so wrong to leave food behind.

I like the idea of giving smaller portions if your kids aren’t finishing their plates. Being able to plate smaller portions is a skill IMO and it doesn’t normalise overeating. 

Post # 18
1085 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

BouvieBee above has a good solution, I think! My youngest niece often refuses to eat more than a few bites of her food (and my brother does not push it) BUT she also tends to ask for candy or ice cream or cookies half an hour later because she’s hungry. Perhaps that’s something your husband is worried about? So that’s why the previous response is a good compromise, I think — let them stop eating if they want to, but if they say they’re hungry later, heat up leftovers of the dinner they didn’t finish so they aren’t using not eating dinner as an excuse to snack later.

Post # 19
2914 posts
Sugar bee

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@lalita:  Medically speaking, you’re completely in the right, and your partner is completely in the wrong. My husband was raised to eat all that was on his plate and his family encouraged seconds. He struggles with his weight and doesn’t know when he is full. He craves the feeling of fullness and wants to be completely full all the time. His entire family is obsese or struggles with weight.

Your partner’s approach will lead to a lifetime of weight struggles and unhealthy eating habits. There is no compromise here, because his approach is legitimately harmful. I would have your pediatrician talk to your partner so he understands that his opinion has no basis of truth in medical research. I’d also share the numerous studies on eating habits and obesity. 

Post # 20
9220 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

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@TwilightRarity:  my husband was a clean-plate family and he still has issues with “wasting” food but knows enough not to do the same to our kids. I tell him all the time “Eating more than you need is still wasting food and you are not a garbage can”. 

We also usually do the “you don’t have to eat it, but you have to at least try it” because more than half the time she goes “oh hey! I like that!” and happily gobbles it down. 


Post # 21
341 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2022

I grew up under the clean plate mentality partially due to my culture and also because my parents grew up half starving. My 2 cents:

1. Children should not be forced to eat more than they can. It would take me almost 3hrs to finish dinner because I just wasn’t interested in food as a child. I think your compromise at giving smaller portions and letting them get seconds if they want it is best until they are old enough to serve themselves.

2. However, at least in the culture I grew up in, I always tried to clean my plate if Im eating at someone’s house to show respect for their cooking. Of course, I’d trying to pre-emptively control the portion but this social skill set/awareness/being able to read the room is something to take into consideration. Also, I think trying all foods at least twice is good. I know many a picky eater and I kindof think it’s a bit of a shame. One friend starved himself for almost 5 days because costco ran out of the chicken nuggets he eats during the covid food rush….

For me, it wasn’t until I went to Uni in the USA and their ginormous portions that I came to the realization that I didn’t have to clean the plate if I didn’t want to. Now cooking for the fiance, I let him choose his own portions, but oddly do get a sliver of irritation (but don’t say anything) if he doesn’t finish what he took and throws out food.

Post # 23
752 posts
Busy bee

I lived with my grandparents for a time when I was a child. They were depression era people that cut the mold off the cheese and the bread and then still ate what was left because you DID. NOT. WASTE. FOOD. I was not allowed to leave the table until the plate was clean. 

To this day, I struggle with anxiety about throwing away food and not eating every scrap in front of me. I’ve struggled with my weight as a child and an adult, and this was a huge piece of it (though far from the only contributing factor). I’m a healthy weight now, but there are times I have to talk myself through throwing away an unfinished dessert or sandwhich because it feels wrong to throw it away despite being full. 

Post # 23
1238 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

I wouldn’t compromise. This would be my hill to die on. I know way too many adults that struggle because of this mentality and have seen some of them pass on that same control and destructive behavior to their children. It’s unhealthy, damaging and very sad.

I know a mom who picks what her children eat and they can’t eat anything else until they finish it. Sometimes they are still eating their breakfast at dinner… it’s disturbing and controlling. But to her, it’s not as bad as when she grew up and couldn’t leave the table till she was finished…

Break the cycle.

Growing up we didn’t have to finish our food but we did have to try everything on our plate.

If your husband is concerned with food waste could you start composting? Or simply put the food back in the fridge…


Post # 24
8409 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

View original reply
@LilliV:  ““Eating more than you need is still wasting food and you are not a garbage can”.” — This is brilliant. You can teach them to take small portions to reduce waste, but if they misjudge or change their mind, forcing them to eat it anyway is still wasteful, just in a different way. Worse, it’s both wasteful AND unhealthy. This is a great way of looking at it.

Post # 25
522 posts
Busy bee

My sister and I spent a lot of time with our grandmother in our childhood and she was a big fan of the “clean plate club” to the point where she’d overly praise you if you finished your plate (which in turn conditioned us to always want to do it).

To this day I still struggle with making sure I’m not overeating. Even today when I thought of making another sandwich for lunch I had to remind myself that just because I’m not painfully full doesn’t mean I didn’t have enough food. 

The human body is designed to not let us starve, especially kids. If they eat a meal and say they’re done, then let them be done. 

Post # 26
1400 posts
Bumble bee

Pile your husband’s plate with an overlarge portion and tell him he can’t get up until he finishes it all. Do it as long as it takes for him to realize that this is what he’s doing to the kids.

Post # 27
12305 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Maybe you can have your husband talk to your ped or a nutrtionist.  I agree with PP – finish your plate for a baby is ridiculous.  Babies, and adults I’m sure, dont always eat exactly the same amount every meal.  Who’s to say when they’re super hungry or not very.  Sometimes my son will down 3 eggs, half a pear and yogurt for breakfast.  Sometimes he has half a piece of toast and a few bites of oatmeal and says he’s done.  If he says he’s done, he’s allowed to get down and stop eating.  Sometimes he’ll come back to his food and for now I let him.  In the future, I may nip that so that he doenst just get down if he’s bored or distracted even if he’s still hungry, but that will be a ways down when he can express himself more and truly understand dining rules.

Post # 28
7229 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2016

View original reply
@LilliV:  I tell him all the time “Eating more than you need is still wasting food and you are not a garbage can”. 

This is so perfectly put. We often joke that my husband is our human trash compactor. He’s working on it, but I’m going to present it to him like you’ve said (rather than as a joke) and see how it lands for him.

Post # 29
2034 posts
Buzzing bee

The idea of saving leftovers to offer next time a snack is required is great.  This is what my parents did – we were very poor, so wasting food wasn’t an option.  Mostly, I cleared my plate because we were given small portions and then allowed seconds if we wanted them.  But otherwise, the food would be packed away to eat later.  I still do this.  Food is so precious, and when some people don’t have enough, it feels wrong to throw out perfectly edible food.

I wish more of my friends would do this – pre-Covid, I got so fed up of seeing their kids pile their plates with food when they came to dinner, leave 3/4 of it behind and then demand cake or biscuits half an hour later.  I’ve also been to a few buffet functions where the kids were allowed to serve themselves before the adults – in many cases, adults went without food because the kids had grabbed so much, most of which ended up going into food waste.

So controlling portion size while kids are younger, encouraging them to set reasonable portion sizes themselves as they get older and saving food for another meal would help overcome a lot of these issues with allowing children to self-govern what they eat.  

Post # 30
240 posts
Helper bee

Please tell him that you intend to plate more child-appropriate portions because, as others have pointed out, this leads to disordered behaviour. I was brought up like this and as a result did my level best to hide the food: put loads in my mouth then spit it down the toilet pretending I had to pee etc, slip it to the dog, slide it into my pockets (! 🤮).. It goes on. They may just retaliate to the control and it’s very important to develop a healthy autonomy over this. Or like someone else suggested, they just won’t know when to stop eating and that’s equally unhealthy! I hope he will listen to you. I know it’s hard to change the mind of someone who was raised that way x

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