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Putting an end to the 'Clean Plate Club'

My parents and in-laws both insist on pushing my kids to “join the clean-plate club.” I don’t want to push them to eat more then they want if they are full. How can I nicely ask them to stop?

When we were kids, we were constantly reminded to join the “Clean Plate Club.” But in a time of childhood obesity, out-of-control portion sizes, and learning to eat only until you are full, this little saying seems outdated at best and perhaps even harmful at worst.

But of course jumping in and correcting your parents or in-laws comes with its own set of baggage. You want to keep them involved and engaged in your child’s life, and you don’t want to insult them by rejecting or negating their advice. So the best you can do to mitigate any sort of unwanted advice is to keep reinforcing your own positive messages at home when it’s just your immediate family. Teach your kids to eat a good meal, and let them stop when they say they are full. (Of course, don’t offer snacks before meals, and make sure they come to the table hungry.)

When the grandparents come over and start pushing the “Clean Plate Club” mantra, you can teach your child to say, with a smile destined to melt their hearts, “It was a delicious meal, but I feel like I’m full now.” At that point, you can jump in and praise them for what a good meal they ate, and then you can ask them to help with the dishes. In other words, just let it go with a smile, and continue on with the day.