Clean Plate Club -Not On Same Page

posted 9 months ago in Family
Post # 31
957 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 1996

In my book, it’s just plain 100% wrong to force a child to eat anything. When it comes to eating, it just feels in my gut like the wrong thing to do. It feels like something that could easily lead to eating disorders. It’s not healthy.

I have never developed a healthy relationship with food, and I’m quite sure that being forced to eat in childhood is part of the reason.

Also, just as a side note, I also don’t believe in creating more than one meal for the family. None of this, oh, he won’t eat pork chops so we’ll make him some chicken nuggets.” No!!!  That’s way too much catering to the child.  Just prepare the meal, give small portions of each food to the child, and either he will eat it, or not. If he refuses to eat, fine. If he’s hungry later, give him a healthy snack.

Just offer a nice variety of foods, and let the child take it from there.

Post # 32
1253 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply

Oh my God, this brings back such bad memories. My dad had the same thinking as your husband and would not allow us to get up from the table until everything was finished. He was completely impervious to our moaning and crying with discomfort as we tried to push in food whilst feeling physically ill. I even have memories of us sitting for hours in restaurants as he forced us to eat every last salad leaf and onion ring. I actually believe these kinds of parenting tactics are a major reason why children end up ignoring their own feelings and bodily sensations when they grow up – this can lead to injuries and other problems. (There is evidence to back this up.)

My mom, on the other hand, for all her parenting flaws, actually encouraged a healthy attitude towards food and eating, and it is one I have adopted. Her philosophy was definitely to let us eat as much as we wanted and stop when we were full (my mom was a good cook, so there was usually someone else willing to take the food from us if we didn’t want it). She also had an open kitchen and we were always allowed and encouraged to help ourselves freely to whatever we wanted (the kitchen usually had interesting and mostly healthy foods where we could experiment and find out what things we liked). Because of this, neither my brothers nor I have ever had a weight problem. To this day, I listen to my body and genuinely rarely worry about putting on weight. There was never any guilt or taboos surrounding food, and we were always encouraged to listen to our bodies.

I don’t know. Having experienced both sides of this issue and knowing for a certainty which one is healthier, I’d probably be a bit firmer with your husband. Show him the research, and offer to find a compromise where you give your son smaller portions and try to give him (healthy) things that you know he’ll like so that he is more likely to finish it, but beyond that say that it is unhealthy to force any person, including a child, to eat beyond the point that they are full. It can make them ill and cause an unhealthy relationship with food later on. Tell him you’re not going to let that happen to your son. (If your husband pushes beyond this, I’d actually be concerned that you have bigger problems with him, ie. him being controlling.)

Post # 33
1242 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2017

“Husband, how would YOU feel if someone else chose the size of your portions, every day for every meal, and then forced you to eat everything THEY put on your plate? Regardless of how you’re feeling that day or how hungry you are. Would YOU like that?”


Or better yet, make him do research on why this is so damaging. This would really bother me honestly. And it would cause some big issues between my husband and I if he had these views. 

One other idea though, when I was growing up we had a “no thank you portion” of everything. Especially if there was a new food. We had to at least try it before saying “I don’t like that!”. Because we all know kids like to claim they don’t like things without even taking a bite. It really opened my eyes and taste buds to a lot of food that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried. 

Post # 34
2137 posts
Buzzing bee

As someone who has had to really consciously parent in a way very different than how I was raised, and so does my husband, I can really sympathize with you OP. It’s hard to try and persuade your spouse to try something new or a new approach when they think they way it was done for them was the right or only way.

When I was a kid, you ate what was given to you and if you didn’t eat it for dinner, you ate it again at breakfast. And if you didn’t eat it at breakfast, you ate it for lunch, etc. Point being: it will be eaten and it will be eaten now or later, but it will be eaten. I don’t take that approach with my kids, at all– however, there’s still days I see piles of food they won’t touch or try and I can see why it likely drove my parents batshit that as kids we’d leave piles of food on our plates. 

If your husband is struggling with this because he thinks it will lead to ungrateful, spoiled brats that will be demanding more food just to waste, I would really encourage him to actually speak to a food therapist about it. My stepkid has some major food aversions and issues with food, and through regular family counseling and also speaking with an ABA therapist, it really opened our eyes to try a new approach. While our family therapist thats helping my stepkid in other areas isn’t a food therapist, she has approached it in the sessions. All to say, if parenting ideals between you two are really big and there’s a fundamental divide in how you’ll tackle certain situations, therapy in general could be really useful.

Post # 35
1128 posts
Bumble bee

Like other Bees have mentioned, my mom was also required to clean her plate, and was also overweight. It wasn’t until she lived on her own that she lost the weight. Your husband is setting the stage for a bad relationship with food. 

Post # 36
518 posts
Busy bee

My parents required me to clean my plate or sit at the table until bedtime. I spent many evenings at the table until bedtime. 

My kids have no such requirements. I even offer a healthy alternative meal if they really don’t like what we’re having. *Gasp*

Post # 37
1465 posts
Bumble bee

This thread is so interesting because I had never really considered my stance on this issue. I was heavily pressured by my parents to eat what they gave me. They’d serve healthy food (veggies and etc). I was (and kinda still am) a very picky eater and there were nights I’d languish at the table because I refused to finish my food.

I eventually started throwing away food behind their backs…a huge sin in my household. I think partly because we weren’t well to do and so food was considered a major expense that they didn’t want to waste. But I have never been an overeater and I’ve always been skinny. 

With my son, I want him to enjoy his food and eat what he likes (within reason). I don’t want him to overeat or feel pressured to “clean his plate.” I don’t have fond memories of being forced to stay at the dinner table and I don’t think there was any value in it looking back. 


Post # 38
331 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2021

I saw Feeding Littles mentioned already but I wanted to add another – Kids Eat In Color. She is fabulous, non-judgy, realistic, and really strives to provide nourishing meals but also making sure there is at least one ‘safe’ option included. I really love her evidence-based approach, her way of communicating it, and her attitude that ‘if you fed your kid today, you are doing fine’. She is definitely against forcing kids to try everything, to finish their plates, etc. She’s a dietition, not just a nutritionist. I absolutely want to follow this strategy when I have kids and I know I will have to talk to my mom and brothers some to make sure they don’t overstep and try to press what they’ve always known. 

Forcing, whether to eat what they don’t want or to restrict what they eat, absolutely encourages issues!

She also tries to normalize (while still being the parent and limiting) things like sweets. She likes to talk to her kiddos about how different foods do different things for our bodies, and that’s why it’s good to have a variety. 

Best of luck! I’ve always been a little picky but my fiance is definitely more so, and less open to trying new things.. I’ve been trying to expose HIM to new things some but it’s a bit harder with an adult who can use appliances himself lol.

Post # 39
4572 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

Add me to the list of bees who were forced to clean their plate.  I blame at least a portion of my eating disorder on being raised this way, and am committed to not raising my daughter the same way.  My parents still do this when I visit them – pile my plate with 3x more food than I would choose for myself and expect me to eat it all.  Thankfully, I’ve gotten better at listening to my body and will put everything left on my plate in a tupperware for later.  It took me over a decade to overcome the “don’t waste food” mentality (I still really really hate wasting but am more comfortable having excess as leftovers) and I was definitely a human garbage can who ate way past the point of satiety, and then overexercised out of guilt.  I would show your husband this thread; maybe he doesn’t realize how damaging it can be?   

Post # 40
3877 posts
Honey bee

My husband gets frustrated with our difficult eater and often says “finish dinner”. He has an idea of what HE thinks our son should eat, that’s literally based on nothing. I just started asking my son if his tummy felt happy and if the answer is “yes”, he can bring his plate to the sink. Sometimes he’s full of crap and does need more food, but I leave that to him to figure out. If your husband is more biligerent than mine in this regard, I would have him ask your pediatrician who will surely agree with you.

This may have been mentioned, but maybe one night you could plate your husband’s dinner with a huge ass portion. Plop it down in front of him and say “finish your plate”. Hah

Post # 41
7222 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2016

View original reply
@mrssouthernfairytale:  When my son was a baby, I read the book Bringing up Bebe where an American mother wrote about her experiences raising children in France. One of the things she explains beautifully is how to introduce foods to kids, prepared in a variety of ways and at a wide range of times and to not be pressured about it. I followed that philosophy with my son and he is an AMAZING eater (and always has been). I’m a picky eater, but as a kid, I always had a distinction between treats/snacks (yay!) and veggies or “healthy” foods (tolerable or meh). While his cousins around his age would only eat chicken nuggets or burgers, my son always ate the same meal and vegetables as the rest of us. He eats a wider range of vegetables than I ever did as a kid and he has surprised me, more than once, by requesting more helpings of whatever veggie dish we’re having with dinner.

Leave a comment

Find Amazing Vendors