Clean Plate Club?

As we ease into 2011, it’s a decent time to revisit the ‘clean your plate’ ethic, as this Kansas City Star columnist does.

In this obesity-heavy era, it’s easy to scoff at the idea that we should eat all that’s on our plates. There are the eating disorder worries. And with today’s portion sizes so huge, eating all we’re served can be a dangerous proposition. 

At the same time, the ‘clean your plate’ ethic teaches a healthy respect for food. Especially if we’re served (or take) a modest amount of healthy food.

The K.C. column features a neat little tale toward the end. It’s worth reading, for a chuckle and a little inspiration on getting kids not to waste food (Hide the ketchup!).

What do you make of the ‘clean your plate’ idea? Does it have any value or is it just a harmful relic?

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6 Comments

  1. Posted January 3, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I used to be a fan (I still clean my plate) but in your book you make compelling arguments that not doing so isn’t going to feed starving children in [another place here] nor help my waistline. We are already driven to overeat and ignore our bodies telling us we are full.

    We primarily use our smallest plates at home (unless we have company, can’t appear to be cheap) and tend to load less onto them. We still manage to overeat but hopefully by a smaller percentage than we would with bigger plates. The new slogan should be “clean a smaller plate.”

  2. Posted January 4, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    As for cleaning your plate being harmful or of value, I think it depends how much is on the plate. Children who are served large portions are intimidated by the amount of food. I counted the bites of meat, green beans, and kernels of corn on my two-year-old’s plate. She always cleaned her plate and asked for more. I knew exactly what she ate since it all disappeared. I have seen very small children with a half cup of several items on the plate. To encourage those children to clean the plate seems immoral.

    Of course, individuals have different appetites. I encouraged variety over quantity. When my son was four, it seemed some days he had a teen appetite. But, when my daughters were four, they ate lightly.

  3. Cathy
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    My husband and I are modern day plate-cleaners: if eating out, we’ll either share a meal or take our leftovers home. When eating at home, we’ll make a creative meal from what’s in the fridge. Last night I mixed some leftover bratwurst and collard greens with a can of black bean soup, some canned tomatoes, and half an onion. It was delicious!

  4. Yvette
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    A 2 step process then! Choose the right portion size, then clean your plate.

  5. Sofia
    Posted January 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    We definitely eat everything on our plates. Then again, we have a fairly healthy diet and I work hard on serving just the right portions according to each family members appetite. On the rare occasion there are leftovers, I have a bowl I keep in the kitchen for the dogs as scraps. Sure, they say don’t feed your dog table scraps but I believe firmly that it applies to the traditional junk food Americans eat. Meat and some types of veggies go over very well for our four legged friends.
    Sofia

  6. Nancy Kaufmann
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I can never forget reading an old saying (I think it’s Chinese, but am not sure) that simply states: A grain of rice is a drop of blood. Puts a certain spin on what’s before us on the table.

    For me, eating can amount to a sacrament with the earth, and this is how I think of the food around me. Can it delight us? Of course, but it remains fruit of our planet and somehow as precious as blood. Wasting any of it unnecessarily can seem very wrong. My plates shine after a meal. And, by the way, I’m not overweight.

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