TIL: Forcing a child to 'clean their plate' teaches them to ignore their internal hunger cues, and may affect their weight through and beyond adolescence.

TIL: Forcing a child to 'clean their plate' teaches them to ignore their internal hunger cues, and may affect their weight through and beyond adolescence.


My grandpa always said, "Take all you want, but eat all you take." Also didn't help my grandma, two aunts, and my mom are amazing cooks


My dad literally used to say the same thing!




Oh I didn’t know it was military... my dad was in the navy, I guess he got it from there.


Pretty sure the movie is Biloxi Blues!


I got "You can always have more, you can never have less.".


That's my rule with drugs.


Honestly probably the best advice for it, yeah.


I'm full. Ok that's fine. 10 minutes later : we have any snacks?


"We got leftovers."


This is the way. You dont need to eat it no, lid goes on. Hungry? Zap zap, here's warm supper enjoy.


Some parents don't know how to cook, so kids end up ignoring bland nasty food. I grew up hating steak because my parents didn't season it at all. Just slapped it on a grill bare and called it a day. Making better food will get a kid to eat more. Edit: I truly and fully understand that a steak only needs salt and pepper. That's called seasoning, and was absent from what my parents would make.


Nah I'm good cook. Have work in restaurants, went to school for it. My kid just won't eat his supper most night and it's been ongoing battle for months now. His almost 4.


Father of a 3yo here. Can confirm kids fight about eating sometimes no matter what it is. My credentials -am fat kid that likes to cook and eat.


Yup. Mom, I want lasagna for supper ! I make lasagna and put it on the table. Yuck, I don’t like lasagna!


My grandparents lived through famine. And you eat what was there or you go without. Cleaning your plate was encouraged. The context of going for days with out any choice of what to eat, is a very understandable facet of "clean your plate"


feel you on the almost 4 thing. one question - have you tried underseasoning? the trick is to find their palate - ours liked really bland food for the first few years of solid eating. Like even natural flavors from e.g. beets were too much, pureed bland baby food was the norm. then over time just natural foods, but i would have to wash off gravy or seasonings of meat. now still some sensitivity but will eat most things that are familiar, which is a pretty broad selection. ...or yours could just be in full on threenager territory. either way good luck!


As a kid my favorite foods were pain white rice (no butter, no seasoning) and buttered noodles. Now I love just about all foods. I don't actually know anyone who enjoys beets though, they taste like dirt to me! And yes I've tried dirt.


This: I cook rice in some vegetable stock, to give it a little bit of flavour. My children don't eat the rice if I do that. Pasta too: 'If I eat one with sauce, can I have the rest without sauce Mommy, please?' Plane tasteless pasta apparently is manna...


I LOVE beets! Specifically because they taste like minerals, also love Australian wine for this reason. Try them with butter and salt, or a little vinegar.


>And yes I've tried dirt. Previous kid status confirmed.


Sometimes I think little kids refuse to eat or fight you over food so much because it's the only thing they have control over. We control every single thing they do. Sleep, clothes, where they go, what they watch on tv and so on. Sometimes it's a sensory thing but I often felt like it's just a frickin power struggle. And they won most of the time.


That's the struggle of socializing a child...you're essentially trying to domesticate a wild animal. A good parent sets proper boundaries with respect to time allocated for pleasure/playing and work/responsibility and they will absolutely try to push those boundaries as they stumble through life through trial and error. parenting is truly one of the hardest jobs out there.


It seems like 9/10 of the parenting advice I've read is basically the same advice I've gotten for raising my puppy. Obviously raising a human is more complex and difficult to get right, but it's not dissimilar.


Take a look at *Don't Shoot the Dog* by Karen Pryor. I'm a teacher, and this is a book by an animal trainer about how to train anything, including children.


Reddit thinks all the dumb shit kids do is because the parents are doing something wrong lol


People who aren't parents "jUsT mAkE a DeLiCiOuS mEaL"


“Just turn the fork into an airplane wtf”


Train works way better, let’s be real


Hard mode is dropping Little Boy broccoli payloads into their open mouths and gtfo before the fallout.


This week, dinner has been * Thai curry chicken with rice * Homemade pizza * Hot dogs * Jambalaya with smoked sausage Guess which one the kids actually ate?


hot dogs for sure, my nephew loves roasting hot dogs, he'd do it everyday from age 3-5 if he could.


how does not every single commenter know it's the hot dogs..


I feel like a lot of Reddit has never even met a child. "Oh, you just need to properly season a gourmet meal to get your kid to eat". You could have a fucking five star michelin chef prepare a meal, and the average kid would still pick frozen chicken nuggets.


There was a thread once about “imagine being a baby and suffering in silence.” All the parents were like “have you ever met a baby? They cry about literally everything.”


A trick I heard some parents use: Give them a "choice". Cook up one whole nutritious meal and split the options up before you give it to them. Like carrots and potatoes on one plate, broccoli and steak on the other. Push the idea that their only two options are plate A and plate B, not "eat or don't eat", and you might be able to convince them to eat more regularly. And naturally, no snacks - if they don't finish their food, they have leftovers.




Oooh, that's a good one. Do you mean something like "keep stirring the soup" even if it doesn't need to be stirred, that sort of thing?


Choice works Indeed, whenever I can I put everything on the table that goes in a dish: some herbs, some nuts, separate cheese, pasta, sauce, ... All little bowls. They love saying 'I want this and this and this'. Of course you still have to manage it a bit or they only eat nuts and ketchup with mint, but you can see they are happy with the bowls and the choice. However I learned from an eating disorder facility that the rule should be: parents decide what is eaten and when. Children choose the amount.' so if there is dessert, everybody gets a dessert, disregarding what they ate before. You do not, not ever, want to make food into a reward. And all food is good and worthwile, not only the sweet food. And if your child has tasted, but does not want to eat, they can wait until the next meal is served (5/day).


Honest question here. I am a parent of little ones and sometimes they simply refuse to eat, but of course want to stock up on that sweet dessert. Is the recommendation that they get dessert regardless of whether they eat dinner? I don’t let them have the dessert unless they’ve eaten at least some of their food. The dessert isn’t a “reward” per se, but if I let them decide that’s all they would eat many nights.


Try tallying you how many calories he b is eating during the day. It is really common for kids to do the bulk of their eating at breakfast and lunch (and healthy snacks) earlier in the day. Dinner is a bonus at that point. I was chef at daycares. We had morning and afternoon snack too. It was never junk. And parents were told to not force dinner. Offer it. But don’t engage in a power struggle. The rule at our house for dinner on nights when they are fighting it, is all their veggies and as many bites of the protein as they are years old. Carbs are if you want them. And if you didn’t eat then no dessert. I know when they are BSing. And how much they can put away on a night it’s one of their favourites though.


Yep, I remember the grey, rubbery meat my dad would dish up for us. Grey steak, grey mince, grey pork chops. Even grey sausages, somehow. Absolutely blew my fucking mind the first time I tried a properly cooked steak with actual *colour* in it.


Well that’s because they didn’t boil it over hard in some milk. Then pair it with some fine jelly beans, raw of course. Exquisite.


salt and pepper is all a steak needs and they couldnt even be bothered to do that?


My family is from Ohio. My step-mom visited me in Baton Rouge. We went to a Cajun restaurant, she asked if every item had any "spices". The waiter asked for clarification "You know, like salt and pepper". Some people are totally ignorant of food and can't stand flavor.


I know this girl who said she was raised basically just tossing chicken breasts in a pan. No seasoning or anything, just step 1: acquire chicken breasts. step 2: apply heat. And that’s the whole recipe.


My heart. 💔💔 My caribbean father can't understand why my future mother in-laws food is so bad. Spices are more important than the actual food we eat. She doesn't even use salt


Thats not food. Thats penance.


The fuck man?! I've been slowly learning that overseasoning steak is better than not enough, just can't do too much salt lol


You underestimate what it means when people say some know **nothing** about cooking. *hur hur noodle in water get soft*


> hur hur noodle in water get soft I WAS IN THE POOL!!!


Cut of steak matters too. Most people don’t know that each cut has a preferred cooking method. They just see a cheap steak and feed tough stew meat to their kids. Everyone with a family should learn to cook a London broil, good amount for the value. Learn to make chimichurri and add a veggie/starch. You have a meal for 5 for like $15


Yup, or "Sure! Apple or banana" (if dinner leftovers are gone)


My mom does this you don't want to eat more ok but the next thing you eat is going to be whats left


Yup. My sister's kids are both under 4 years old. Dinner is a face mask, a hair product, a fashion accessory, finger paint, wall art and every so often something to eat. She has to coax them into eating every single meal. They like the food, and are willing to try most things, but the fun of it all comes first. They will also straight up not eat if she doesn't make them, then turn into crying monsters when their bodies run low on fuel. Never occurs to them to eat though. ​ Kids. Gotta be something in the middle of "eat everything" and "you do you".


My sister will give them food then make them nutella on toast when the tears start because they don't like it, which only happens because they know she'll give them something nicer.


Ah, there's where the problem is. With my sister, dinner is dinner. She gets the minimum amount of food into them, and lets them decide if they are going to finish their food. If they whine about being hungry later after not having eaten much of their dinner, they can have the rest of their dinner. There is never a "something better" option to hold out for.


Yep, we do similar. Also, if we do "dessert" it is just a part of the meal. The cookie or the kid-sized piece of pie goes on the plate. If they choose to eat it first, thats fine. There won't be any more later. Sugar isn't a reward, or a forbidden fruit they have to earn. It's just one part of a good meal. Lately one of them has started saving it, realizing that like we've always said, it's a good way to end the meal.




It’s almost as if parents need to parent. Qualifications: am a parent, too.


Yeah, we finally stopped doing that over here. Took them a while to realize crying/refusing to eat wasn't going to work out in their favor. "I'm hungry." "Cool, your dinner that you didn't eat is in the fridge." "Oh..." "Can I have dessert?" "You said you couldn't eat dinner cause your stomach hurt." "Oh right..."


That’s exactly how we learned. You only got dessert if you cleared your plate, meaning you had actually eaten your meal. A caveat though, is that we were able to choose our portion sizes (within reason and with adult supervision and guidance... you couldn’t totally skip out on the veggies, but you also didn’t have to struggle to eat a heaping scoop of them - make sure you have some veggies and eat what you take) This really helped me learn portion control, knowing I couldn’t have dessert if I didn’t eat everything helped me learn to only take what I knew I could eat, and if I wanted to save room for dessert that was within my control.


Yea, I'm baffled how parents get tricked by 4 year olds. They freaking lie like rugs.


My nephew had my sister convinced peanuts gave him diarrhea. He just wanted more snack cakes and chips instead of a peanut butter sandwich in his lunch. She only found out when she saw him eating a bunch of Reese's cups he got from another kid.


yeah thats how i learned. if i didnt want to eat the minimum was three bites of each item to try, and if i didnt want anything else from there i could quit whenever, but didnt get the good until it was all gone


This is the worst. My wife has a daycare and you can't believe the amounts of kids who literally eat NOTHING during the day. All because at home the pizza, mcdonalds and french fries get whipped up when the waterworks start. We tell parents that a healthy dinner is a requirement otherwise they can start bringing their own lunch we can throw out every day.


We have a friend whose kid once lost her shit in front of us because our friend wouldn't take her to Starbucks to get a treat. Like straight up was screaming at my friend, because typically that worked to get her a treat. The policy in our house has always been "We do not negotiate with terrorists."


This is literally what I tell my kids “I don’t negotiate with tiny terrorists.”


> They will also straight up not eat if she doesn't make them I'd be willing to test that theory with patience.


An eternity to that kid is like 45 minutes. I think I can outlast him.


That’s the challenge, weighing up when they’re actually full and when they just want to go and do something else. “Do I have to eat any more?” “Eat until you’re full”. “I’m full”. “You had one bite of a carrot, eat some more”. “But I’m full”. “NO YOU’RE NOT!”


Our toddler does the "my tummy hurts" routine. So we just push his plate away and say "ok, you don't have to eat, but you need to sit here with us while we finish eating." Some nights he asks for his plate back and chows down two minutes later. Some nights he doesn't eat anything else. Seems to work for now. I'm sure in a few months we'll need to invent a new strategy.


For picky toddlers that definitely works. My three year old will eat anything as long as you giver her enough time. Her older sister would pass out from hunger before eating a large subset of foods.


Exactly the problem in my house. I have a very picky six year old who will randomly choose any juncture in the meal to say, “I’m full”, which really means either, “I don’t like the color of that bit there and so the entire plate is forfeit,” or “I really want to go play now.” We’ve found that the best we can do is to just let her leave, finish our meals, and then when she comes back in five minutes saying she’s hungry again, remind her that food was served and she disregarded it, and offer a less-appetizing snack in its place. Still can’t win on anything with peppers, mushrooms, or onions anywhere near it, but there are some meals she can at least power through now without giving up halfway through.


To be fair, there are plenty of adults who don’t like anything with peppers, mushrooms, or onions, so she might just end up never liking those.


Why not just give her the dinner plate back?


This trick only works once in a while, but a little reverse psychology works with young kids. "Ok you have to eat 6 big boy bites because you're 6" "But I'm 5!" "Oh you're right, then you can't possibly eat 6 big boy bites"


"Oh, then I guess you'll just have 5 little bitch bites, then."


Oh, that's delightfully evil. If I know me, which I quite confident of, I would've fallen for this shit everytime.


I'm full. Are you sure, we have to take a bath in 10 minutes? 10 minutes later, shower's on and hot: wait, I was eating those noodles!!


Lol my daughter has the crown for this. She now asks if she can put her plate on the counter in case she's still hungry. It's okay to take a moment to move around a bit and see if you're actually still hungry or full in my house. We're lucky not to have to have a strict schedule for that but when we do I'm straight up that a little hunger won't kill otherwise well fed kids. They always know there is food available at home and later they can grab something.


With my 4 yr old its more of: I'm full (after barely eating a quarter of his plate), not very very hungry :: 3 mins later:: Can I have desert?


Yes you can have desert! Surprise your leftover dinner goes by the new name of desert!


"we have more dinner. Just pop it in the microwave"


My five year old has recently taken to saying “I’m not hungry for this food,” meaning he would definitely eat some snacks if he had them.


Unfinished foods hgets wrapped up and is the only thing available to eat until they finish it later.


Exactly, I’ve got two kids. If we don’t make them sit down and finish their dinner, they’ll say they’re starving an hour later right before bedtime.


BEEEDTIME! Oh all of a sudden I'm hungry, thirsty, and have to pee really bad.


And they want a hug, they want to tell you something that takes 10 minutes of context and stuttering, they wanna read 5 books, and one more hug.


My grandpa's rule was that if you served yourself, you had to eat all of it, but if someone else served you, you just had to try it. Of course my dad beat me anyway when we got home if I didn't clean my plate. He thought it was disrespectful to the cook. My grandpa had the right idea though.


> Of course my dad beat me anyway when we got home if I didn't clean my plate. He thought it was disrespectful to the cook. My grandpa had the right idea though. What's so fucking ridiculous about that is that in other cultures the reverse is true. If you finish all your food, it's like you are implying they didn't give you enough food. You are supposed to leave a little bit. It kindof shows how manners in general are overrated since they are so arbitrary half the time. (Though of course manners and "being a good person" are SOMETIMES the same thing) __________ Edit: pasting in content of follow up post I mean, I understand they aren't literally arbitrary in a random sense. If I had to hypothesize, "it's rude to eat everything on your plate" is probably the product of time of food shortage, whereas with less food shortage you are more likely to get "its an insult to the cook if you don't eat it all, like you didn't think it was good enough to want to it eat all." The point is, those two "good manners" are literally opposite each other. Especially because the host is supposed to accommodate the guest's culture but the guest is supposed to accommodate the hosts culture in return, but in this case they could be mutually exclusive on this issue. There isn't a logical consistency in any sort of universal morality sense. It's arbitrary in the sense of at some point being circular logic of "it's polite to do it this way because lots of people were taught it was polite so it's rude if you don't." Like wearing a hat inside being "rude." There may or may not be a historical reason that makes sense, but today it's certainly not "immoral" to wear a hat inside. It isn't rude other than the circular logic of them thinking that you knew it was "polite" to take it off and didn't. At some point IMO, "manners" are just "trying to learn moral action by rote rather than by understanding."


>If you finish all your food, it's like you are implying they didn't give you enough food. I learned this the hard way on my HS exchange trip to Spain. The food was amazing and I had a broad pallet so I devoured the wonderful meals my host family prepared... then their mother would refill my plate and it was awkward to refuse. We entered into a sort of a cultural stalemate where she didn't want to underfeed me and I didn't want to seem rude by not finishing what she gave... I ate myself sick by the 3rd or 4th dinner. I just didn't understand the cultural signal of 'enough'. The next day I was lamenting this to my group and one of the other students who had traveled before explained it to me. After that, no more issues, though I still stuffed myself because dang that family could cook. Real homemade paella from Xirivella is a dish for which I have never found its equal.


Eventually it becomes Leave some -> "What you didn't like it?" Eat all -> *Here is a second plate.* There is no way out.




same reason why porn drives the tech industry: they have enough money to burn for experimental tech that they can then use to make people pay for more porn because the need to procreate is as primal as eating ~~Now what I don't understand is how we haven't devised more creative and indulgent ways to breathe~~ Right, smoking. ~~How about drink~~ Right, alcohol. It seems there's a correlation between primal needs and addiction.




Fuckin memory leak overflowing the stomach Collection.


" Of course my dad beat me anyway when we got home " I was sure you would finish that sentence with "jumper cables". hahaha


It taught me to put less on my plate and take more afterwards if I had room. Edit: Many are saying that the parents are the ones who filled the plate. That seems very counter intuitive/ like poor parenting. The kid should be the one who fills their plate.




A parent who is forcing a kid to clean their plate most likely is the one who prepared it.


A hold over from depression era parenting. When food was no longer as scarce meals got bigger. Food was heaped on plates and it was taboo to leave any taken food uneaten. Like so many other things we pass it on to our kids.


Just give people smaller portions.


Or just stop eating when you are full rather than dictating how much they can eat. Serving smaller portions doesn't help anything if you are still taught to clean your plate.




Another issue is some people don't ever feel sated or not hungry until they feel stuffed.




Ding ding ding. If you stuff yourself every night from a young age, what is actually "stuffing yourself sick" just becomes "eating".


This is where I'm at. I never feel satisfied with food. I'm either hungry or I feel sick because I'm so full. I've learned to cope by giving myself a measured amount of food at every meal but I am so jealous when I've gone out to eat with friends and they just know when they are done.


The two aren't mutually exclusive. You can serve smaller portions on smaller plates and *also* not tell them to clean their plate. Especially since portion size is easily the #1 issue Americans deal with. Our idea of a proper portion is easily 2-3 meals on average. Both are problems that need to be fixed. The answer isn't one or the other.


It kind of misses the mark. We should be serving smaller portion sizes and healthier foods to start with. That way we aren't wasting food or making kids feel compelled to eat more than they want. EDIT: Whoa. RIP, Inbox.


Completely agree. I made a comment further up about having guilt from childhood about unfinished plates. As an adult, I bought smaller plates to help with the portion control/ wastage. Finishing my plate is less destructive when the plate (and then the portion) is half the size of an average plate.


It also misses half of the reason to do the "clean your plate" method. I think a lot of parents missed the first part - You make a child clean off their plate (or put it away to eat later) *Only* when you have the child pick the amount they put on the plate. This is supposed to help not having eyes bigger than your stomache. but again, you are also supposed to put it in the fridge and it is the next meal they are allowed. Not force it down their throats or make them sit till its done while they gag. ___ At least that's how i remember being taught. idk


>I think a lot of parents missed the first part - You make a child clean off their plate (or put it away to eat later) *Only* when you have the child pick the amount they put on the plate. That's exactly what my parents did (making my plate for me, and then forcing me to clean it) and I still have so much trouble even putting food away for later. I remember several times I would go throw up after dinner because I couldn't keep everything down. I don't think it's a coincidence that I struggle with my weight as an adult.


Last night, I made bourbon chicken thighs with rice and peas. My six year old son LOVES rice and peas. He took two adult size portions of each last night, leaving very little of either in the bowl. I told him he is welcome to take all the food he wants, so long as he is able to eat it. "Okay, Dad! I'm hungry, I'll eat it all!" Then he takes an entire chicken thigh... His normal portion would be about half a chicken thigh, and maybe a quarter of the rice/peas he took... Cue our doubts. Wife and I start giggling to ourselves because we don't have to make him breakfast for tomorrow... HE FRIGGIN ATE IT ALL AND ASKED FOR MORE. HE IS SIX. And he couldn't have fed anything to the dogs because they were outside.


Maybe he’s going through a growth spurt. Appetite can fluctuate, especially when kids are growing.


Feed teenage boys. Where did all the food go? You are still hungry? Alright go make another plate up. Literally 9 months later: how tall are you now? Huh, that's 8 inches taller than you were last year.


Teenage girls as well, as long as you don’t embarrass them for eating like a lot of people do.


This is me and my 12 year old sister. She spends just about every weekend at my house and I encourage her to eat whenever she's hungry or go back for seconds at dinner if she wants. I buy her foods to take home for breakfast and after school snacks. I grew up with disordered eating because our mother has a very complicated relationship with food and often passive aggressively shamed my sisters and I for eating (or she just didn't keep any food in the house, or purposely bought food no one liked so we wouldn't eat it, or heavily salted an entire frozen pizza so no one wanted more than one piece... The more I think about this the more messed up it seems). I don't want the same to happen to my sister.


You're a good sister. If she doesnt now, she will appreciate it one day


My 3yo can eat more than I can if its something she likes. Sweet stuff she will still be eating where I would be puking. She'll lick the icing off a full-sized cake if you let her.


That cake imagery is so funny




Kids are something else. I remember mixing cake frosting with milk to get chocolate milk. The thought now revolts me.


Our kid does this! For about a week kid eats like a bird, just picks. Then the next week we ever have enough food in the house. Within 2 weeks of that, fever and then growth.


If he becomes a swimmer or water polo player later in life be prepared for your house to never have any food in jt


In what part of the world is water polo a common sport for kids to join? I don't think I've ever heard it mentioned outside of the Olympics.


the _rich_ part... who else can afford a giant swimming pool and the horses to go in it. not to mention all that Ralph Lauren gear.


Kids can devour so much food if they are growing and then stop eating when their growth slows down. As a parent, I suggest you start a food fund for when your son turns about 14. You’re going to need it.


> I remember several times I would go throw up after dinner because I couldn't keep everything down. I bet it would get the point across if you just did it a couple of times without going away, just throw up right then and there over the dinner table.


I would get the shit beat out of me if I did that as a kid


Yea the type of parents to force you to eat like that probably wouldn’t be deterred by you puking on the table. They’d whoop you and then scold you explaining how that’s all your fault.


Or worse, make you explain to them why its all your fault.


Same. My dad would force it down my throat if i didn't eat it either. I remember I didn't want to eat ham once cause I didn't like it. So he took it, and literally shoved it right down my throat, and of course I vomited everywhere.


Wow what an asshole of a dad! Thats super abusive.


This is what I did, although unintentionally. We were at a chinese buffet and I took too much. My dad forced me to eat everything I had on the plate and with a few bites left I vomited everything back onto the plate. He never told me to finish my plate again after that.


I did exactly that so many times when I was young. My parents finally stopped forcing me to finish my food and told me just eat again when you're hungry. I feel much better now.




I'm pretty sure, but not positive, it comes from the WWII era where it was a "we're all chipping in" thing. So it's probably one of those things that has no meaning now but since you grew up with it you raise your kids to do it too.


For us it came from a place of poverty. You finished that plate because you never knew how much would be on the next one.


My grandparents, and my parents, went through first and second world wars (my parents WWII). Nobody wasted food.


Same with my father. My mother on the other hand grew up with large families are always making 3 times as much food as you needed just in case someone came by when you were eating.




The way my parents would do it is that they'd heap on food and if you said it was too much they would reply that they think it is what you should eat at x age, and then later on if you could not finish it they would sit you down at the table until you finished, even if that would be hours later when you don't feel stuffed again.




Average - chubby


Same here. My mother would also scrape all the leftovers onto my plate and repeatedly stab them into my face if I didn't open my mouth. I could never figure out how it was saving all the starving kids in Africa. Now she complains that I eat too much.


> You make a child clean off their plate (or put it away to eat later) Only when you have the child pick the amount they put on the plate. I super appreciate your comment. Accept my poor man's 🏅 This is the piece I've been missing - glaringly obvious but the finished equation. I'm currently all over this issue as I'm in week 3 of a visiting grandmother is constantly trying to shove food down my daughter's throat, thinking she's stubborn, not full.


My grandparents had us pick our amounts, but then just didn't let us have dessert if we didn't clean our plates. That way it was an incentive, not a punishment, to try and pick the right amount (also we were welcome to grab seconds), and we weren't "forced" to eat anything.


I always tell my kids to watch how much they serve themselves and not overdo it. They can always go back for more if they want.


Exactly. Smaller portion sizes. The only time you should make a kid eat is when they are not getting enough nutrition and food to be healthy. We need to learn what amount that is tho. Kids dont need adult size portions. Or what we think adult sized portions are.


Heck most adults don't need what passes for adult size portions these days.


Smaller portions are great for waste, but more important point is that even if you do smaller portions, a "clean your plate" mentality can still cause them to overeat. They may actually be hungry for seconds if you serve too small of portions, and then your second plate causes them to over eat as they "clean it". Just serve a reasonable portion, and let the child choose when they are done (with you monitoring of course). Children create waste, it is almost unavoidable. If you are very concerned about waste, then you box up what they don't eat for later, then the problem is solved.


I agree with what you're saying about waste but the other side of the coin is kids picking through what they want, saying they are done, and then begging for dessert an hour later. I'm sure there are many better ways to deal with that but I see my sister having that fight with my nieces constantly.


Exactly, thats my battle. My kid will eat 5 adult size pancakes, 3 peices of bacon and a glass of OJ no problem. But if the meal is vegetables, he's "full" after 1 peice of sauteed broccoli and a bite of rice.


This why we don't have regular dessert or junk food in the house. Not that the kids aren't allowed these things because that creates a different issue. But limiting access also helps them regulate and makes it less stressful for me.


Yes! I don’t want my kids to overeat, but I do want them to learn not to take more than they *can* eat and not to pick through for the goodies or just nibble because they don’t like dinner that night and then LITERALLY FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER be trying to grab a junky snack, lol.


This comment x1 million! My youngest does this. She is a snacker and dinner is the meal she struggles through the most. I serve her small portions and she STILL argues to not have to finish and will ask immediately if she’s earned dessert. I think there’s a fine line here.


My son is just the same! He legitimately tries to convince us that he has a separate dinner and dessert stomach, LMAO.


My trick is not to give them dessert. I'll unpack their dinner for them if they are hungry later and they didn't eat more than a few bites. One of the hardest parts about being a parent is disappointing your child. No parent likes to do this, so it can be hard sometimes to tell them "No". But the more you do it, the less they fight, and the easier it gets. Sometimes you'll go a month fighting about it every night, but every time you give in you're giving yourself another month of fights. It's absolutely easier to just give your kid the treat they want, so no harsh judgement from me. Being a parent is exhausting, so not taking those shortcuts takes a lot of willpower sometimes.


This was a policy in my childhood until my mom made me eat an entire plate of pancakes at iHop and i then proceeded to throw up all over the lobby. After that they listened when I said I full.


it's a weird holdover from growing up with nothing. my dad, who grew up in an immigrant family, grew up in several different projects and ghettos in the US and remembers times when there was simply nothing to eat for dinner. and if you didn't know when your next meal was coming, you better eat whatever is on your plate because mom can't deal with kids whining about hunger when she literally has no money for food. he would get upset when i wouldn't eat all my food... even though the reason was that i just didn't like whatever was being served or i had a big lunch. i learned to shove all the food in my mouth, hold it back in my throat, then go to the bathroom and spit it out. i've heard similar stories from immigrant families who remember much worse times in their home country. if you don't know where your next meal comes from, then your current meal is so much more important: no matter what it is.


That makes sense if it’s some kind of food that cannot be kept for leftovers. But if you are full now and don’t know when you will get another meal but you still have food on the plate wouldn’t it be much more sensible to keep the leftovers later for a second smaller meal when you are hungry? Rather than eat until you’re sick now and not have anything for later?


If they were so poor they missed meals and it was a while ago, it's very possible they didn't have a refrigerator.


We always did the "three bites" rule with our son, have to try three bites, if you decide you don't like it, okay, but you don't get to just outright decide before trying it. We also didn't force him to finish his food. Kids are weirdos anyways, we let him sort of guide his own hunger and eating (within reason) and lo and behold he's a solid adult now who regularly eats vegetables and isn't a serial killer (that we're aware of, I guess lol). Setting food out on the table and teaching him to serve himself also went a long ways. Even his daycare when he was younger ate family style, and it really made a difference in how he ate and his relationship with food.


I had something like this. Instead of finishing my plate, it was more that I had to take too much food to begin with. Whenever I refused, it would always go, "Oh, you aren't on a diet, are you?" or, "We made all this food, you have to take it all!" Right now, I've managed to fend them off and get myself to a semi-healthy weight, but dang if it isn't frustrating.


So, I'm a fatty and it's definitely my fault. However, I can see this being a contributing factor. This was a rule in my house as a child and, even as an adult, I have overwhelming guilt about not finishing my plate. That being said, when I moved into my own place with my partner, I insisted on smaller than average plates and it's helped. It's less destructive finishing your plate when it's about half the size of am average plate :)


Teach your kids to notice when they're full and adjust their portion size next time you have a meal. That way they learn not to waste and don't end up with an ED. Also focus on fitness and health instead of weight and looks.


My mom taught me that a lady NEVER clears her plate, she always leaves something. She would physically take food off my plate so I wouldn't eat it all, that kinda fucked me up too.


That's just such a crazy stance to take. Taking food off your plate is just asking for issues.


Accepting that it is ok to be hungry between meals (when food is plentiful), and every meal doesn't have to be a collection of your favorite things, etc has helped me get my weight under control.


Can confirm, this was definitely a policy in my house as a kid and I’ve struggled with healthy diet habits and weight my whole life.


Same, but I went the other way, I wont finish a damn full plate of food. I eat until Im not hungry, and we do the same with my kids now. We all sit at the table, they put what they want on their plates and eat what they want. Simple as that. When my wife and I first lived together she got frustrated with all the left overs Id bring home. Until I explained that in my mind, I am not paying $15 for a big plate of food, Im paying $15 to not be hungry anymore. Once Im not hungry, Im content with my investment.


And left overs mean you have already got tomorrow’s breakfast or lunch sorted


Yeah but have you heard about these psychos who don't eat leftovers?? I know people who think the second the food gets cold or leaves the plate it's gone bad. They dump everything they don't finish. Drives me insane.


I had pizza for breakfast the other day, it’s best the next day. When I make a crock pot it lasts me AT MINIMUM 3 days. Yeah I don’t understand people that dispose of left overs rather than putting them in the fridge for later.


When I cook I cook extra portions on purpose. Why put all that effort in to only get one meal out of it when I can make tomorrow’s lunch and maybe even the next day’s too?


My parents are the same way, but they put their leftovers in the fridge and ignore then for days before throwing them out. It's one of the reasons why I make dinners that'll last 2 days.


I know people who don't eat leftovers because they deem themselves too "high class" for old food. Aside from that, IMO its against my environmental principles to throw away leftovers unless they are actually rancid or just don't taste good. Throwing away food, especially meats, means that all the work and energy that went into the food is now wasted


This was the same in my house, but we were also super poor and couldn't really afford more food later if we didn't eat.


For all the parents on here, check out feeding littles. It goes much more in depth about how to do this well and it’s working very well with my kids. It’s all about the division of responsibilities. You decide what to serve and when and they decide how much to eat and of what. My daughter does occasionally only eat 2 bites for dinner. And then she crushes breakfast. As long as both meals are healthy, it’ll all balance out.


"You decide what to serve and when and they decide how much to eat and what" That's actually in the official German brochure given out to parents at the mandatory checkup for 2 year olds at the pediatrician.


I love feeding littles! Also love how they teach about not putting dessert on a pedestal—not using it as a reward and not restricting it. Complete opposite in my house growing up and I had some major issues


Yes! When we had our first, we saw a nutritionist/registered dietician to walk us through transitioning from a baby to a toddler. Here is some of what we learned: 1. You choose when and what to eat. 2. Your baby chooses whether to eat and how much to eat. This means if your child chooses not to eat what you make, you don’t have to make something else. Eventually, they will learn to eat most of what is in front of them, if they are hungry. But, this also means if they don’t clean their plate or don’t eat all of their vegetables, it’s ok. Really. 3. There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods. There are healthier choices but French fries or nuggets every once of a while are not going to make your child obese. If they feel like eating dessert first sometimes, that’s ok too. 4. Practice mindful eating. No tv or phones during meal time. This means you too. 5. Don’t use food as a reward or a punishment. Meals should be an enjoyable experience all the time, but should not be tied to celebration or missing out because you were bad. 6. Cut down on snacks before mealtime. 7. Exercise and play = hungry kids. Pack healthy snacks and cut fruit for after play or exercise. This will cut down on tantrums. 8. Drink more water. Juice/lemonade is ok once in a while, but teach your kids to just drink water at mealtime. Lead by example and cut out sugary drinks as much as possible. The dental savings alone will be worth it.


This is what happened in our family. I remember growing up we weren’t allowed to move an inch unless our parents were happy with how much we ate and rarely did they let us go without finishing our plate. We were never able to dish ourselves up either. Now I’m 41. My older sister had bariatric. My little brother is always fighting to keep his weight in check. My mother had a heart attack and a double bypass and is almost 380 pounds. My dad had a triple heart bypass and needs two new knees. Although he wasn’t as bad as the rest of us. I myself was the worst in the family. I got to 465 pounds. I’m 378 lbs now and about to get bariatric myself. I’m not a grazer. I avoid junk food most of the time. My biggest issue was gorging at supper time. I didn’t even notice how bad it was until I entered a program to bring me back to normal. For instance I could eat a Domino’s Meatlovers Large, 20 wings, and cheesy bread, and a whole 2L coke. In less than a hour. At the time I didn’t think about it. Now I can’t imagine how the fuck I could do it. Mark my words. Every person who is morbidly obese is that way because of childhood trauma of some kind. We have something blocking ourselves emotionally from being happy and we are slaves to food. This “clean your plate” mentality is a symptom of a larger problem. But this rings so loud to me on what started me down a bad path.


Agree on the trauma thing - it doesn’t register at the time, but forcing children to eat when they’re not hungry is really messed up. Congrats on setting goals and working towards them. You can do it!


I always loved the “children are starving in ______” approach. Guilt tripping someone into eating more than is needed. It becomes extra ridiculous when you realize starvation is a distribution issue and not a supply issue. Absurdity.


It bothers my dad when I don't take that much food to eat, because I don't want to eat that much while he feels like he made a lot and wants it to get used up. I don't care how much was made or what day it is, I don't like stomach pain.


Was in partial hospitalization treatment for Binge Eating Disorder. Met a significant number of people who, when required to throw away food in order to break the habit of cleaning their plate, would literally break down crying, storm off, throw things, or engage in self-harm. To the external observer, these people were just being dramatic, until you hear in group therapy the awful stories that caused this. Kids who were beaten, locked away for days, or demeaned for days for simply throwing away the smallest bite of food. Kids that were told that the reason their relatives died or suffered was because of their wastefulness and selfishness. Kids that, growing up in food-insecure homes that absolutely could not stand to throw a single thing away because they didn't know when the next time was that they would eat, so they would eat until they puked. People who were told exactly how.much they were required to eat, not because they felt that way, but because their parents, significant others, or other abusers used forcing or denial of food to control and demean them or to sublimate some of their own pain and issues around food. Or, you know, people who would eat everything they could because it was the only thing that made them feel anything. Seriously, forcing kids to eat or not to eat is just fine for almost any kid once or twice. However, eating disorders are one of the most common mental health issues in developed countries, and behaviors around food have been given massively more moral value and social pressure than they need to have. For most kids, they'll be okay if a parent's, teacher's or caregiver's behaviors occasionally push them about food. That being said, the fastest way to any eating disorder is to dictate to your children at all times when, what, and how much to eat. If you're curious about anything around effective behaviors for teaching responsible feeding habits, check out the book, "Intuitive Eating." It has an entire section about how to provide responsible nutrition to children a way that doesn't lead to them developing feeding or eating issues.


Also get your kid checked for celiac and vitamin deficiencies if they are not eating. For most of my my childhood eating made me nauseous. Found out in my 20s I have a terrible intestinal allergy and inflammation from wheat, barley and rye. Now I can’t get vitamin D and Bs from my food because the inflammation damaged my small intestine’s ability to taken in nutrients. Another thing - if you’re kid is complaining of headaches and stomach aches often and there is no physical cause you want to rule out bullying or sexual abuse. Kids don’t usually display adult responses like depression and psychosis. They get physical nausea and headaches because the stress hormones affect your body and your psyche hasn’t matured enough to process this stuff mentally and emotionally yet.


This describes my relationship with food for the last 40 years. COVID has had the pleasant side effect of reducing the number of visits to my Mom, meaning I haven’t been gorging myself out of some misplaced guilt about not finishing the enormous portions she provides.


Can confirm. Also why i don't do this to my kid.


I feel like most of my adulthood is just unlearning all the bad habits got ingrained in me. There's a reason why they say an apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I'm determined to be a very bouncy apple


That's a broad statement that is tenuous at best. There are plenty of reasons why a child should be appropriately directed to focus on their meal. Some kids are much more interested in going to play Nintendo than they are in ensuring that they've had a proper meal. Others will avoid vegetables or other foods, and encouraging them to try new things and get the required balance of intake is valuable. It's just never that simple. Everyone seems to want to have a single answer for such things, and the world is a whole lot more complicated than that.


My younger brother, who's 11, takes literally a full hour to finish a meal, and if allowed to stop eating of his own volition will take 2 bites then go back to video games. No idea why. He doesn't snack that much. He just doesn't seem to like eating.


I'm kinda the same regarding not liking eating. I find it annoying for lack of a better word. It's not that there aren't foods that I like (or really like) to eat but there are times when I just wish there was some magic pill to fulfill all the nutritional needs and take that instead of having to get food and spend time eating it (I know there are some meal replacements but some still take effort so might as well actually eat something).


Agreed. I have 4 kids, so I know a thing or two about children and their eating habits. Every child is different. I have one child who has sensory aversions to things, and if she had her way she would eat nothing but bread and cheese, and any dish that combines the two in large quantities. Meanwhile my 3rd child will eat just about anything. Her favorite foods are broccoli and peppers. My last child likes food okay, and isn't necessarily picky, but she would much rather just be doing anything else except eating. For her it's an attention thing. To apply the same broad stroke to my four children would be pretty lazy parenting. It's a fine line to balance between making sure you child is getting the nutrition they need, while not making mealtimes a stressful event and causing them to have a bad relationship with food for the rest of their lives.


Absolutely. There really is no "one size fits all" approach. I think that's the source of a lot of the parenting arguments we have. What works for one child doesn't necessarily work for another.