Is “Clean Your Plate” A Recipe For Obesity?
There have been many suggestions that the parental practice of saying “clean your plate” – something many of us heard as kids – is part of the reason why so many kids develop the eating habits that lead to obesity. The reason? There are actually two – parents may be putting too much of the wrong kind of foods on the plate, and as kids get older they tend to eat what they are given (especially when encouraged to do so). Then throw in the typical promise of dessert if the plate gets cleaned, and you can see why it’s easy for kids to start overeating on a regular basis.
So … how should parents rectify this pattern? I posed the question to registered dietitian Karen Avila – and founder of Healthy Karen - and we came up with these tips:
Help kids learn their own signals of when they are getting full – so don’t try to arbitrarily push kids to clean their plate.
Fill up their plate with the proper balance of food types and do encourage them to eat the balanced selection that is nutrient rich – and make sure they aren’t saving vegetables for last. Check out choosemyplate.gov for lots of good advice and concrete tips on what the plate should look like.
Avoid all those unhealthy snacks before dinner time so that they will have an appropriate appetite that will make it easier for them to eat the composition of foods that should be on their plate.
So the big point really is that kids should be encouraged to eat the proper amounts of the right kinds of food. Working with your child to figure out the exact amounts that satisfy them and their nutritional goals is really the strategy – so instead of cleaning their plate (and being rewarded with more food) you will be teaching them to get in the habit of properly feeding their bodies.
Also check out these 5 healthy eating tips for more detailed information from Karen!
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