One habit that does not serve you well is to always clean your plate.

Fullness cues from your stomach exist to signal to your brain to STOP eating – we’ve had enough.  If you eat until the plate is empty you ignore these signals and let the plate tell you when to stop.  If this is you, keep watching as I give you insight to how you likely developed this bad habit and more importantly, how you stop it to feel better about your eating habits and your body.

Many eating habits developed in childhood.  So think back and let me know in the comments how your parents enforced the clean plate club mentality.

  • You have to clean your plate to get dessert.
  • You have to clean your plate to get seconds of something else you wanted.
  • You have to clean your plate before you can leave the table.
  • You took it, you eat it.

Which of these did you hear?  Or did you hear something else?  Let me know in the comments.

Your parents had good intentions with these rules.  They wanted you to

  • Try new foods
  • Not waste food
  • Not pass on the veggies and come down for a snack in an hour cause you are hungry again

But what they didn’t realize was that for SOME kids, not all KIDS, making them clean their plate was something that would haunt them for a lifetime.  It teaches you to ignore your bodies fullness cues.  How do you know when to stop eating?  You stop when the plate is empty.

Wrong answer.  You stop when you are full or satisfied.

In today’s society our portion sizes are ridiculous.  In the early 60’s a regular meal at McDonalds was a burger, fries and a coke but guess what – the size was now equivalent to a happy meal.  So if you were a teenager in the 60’s and you went to McDonalds and enjoyed a meal with your friends, you ate what today would be considered the equivalent of a happy meal.  Our waistlines have expanded over the years because our serving sizes have expanded.  And if you are still cleaning your plate like you did when you were a kid this can be a significant source of excess calories and a big reason why you gain weight.

Let’s take a look at how you can break this habit.  All habits follow this formula

Cue – Behavior – Reward

So think back and see yourself as an 8 year old child.  The cue was dinnertime.  The behavior was that you cleaned your plate.  What was the reward?

  • Approval of parents.  Avoiding punishment.
  • Getting dessert.
  • Getting to leave the table.

What was your reward?

Fast forward til today.  You are no longer 8 years old so the rewards are no longer the same.  What I bet you will discover is that this was a habit that you laid down as a kid that was forced on you by your parents.  You still repeat those patterns today despite the reward being absent.  In fact, cleaning your plate is detrimental to your health.  Oftentimes it leads to you feeling stuffed and feeling guilty.

So next time you eat, pay attention to when your stomach tells you it is full.

If there is more food on your plate, ask yourself why do you feel you need to eat it.

What comes up?

Then ask if this is your 8 year old self answering the question or is it your adult self?

Answer the question for the adult you are today.

I hope this helps! And before I go, please, if you are a parent, don’t repeat these same patterns with your kids.  Teach them how to tell when they are hungry and how to tell when they are full.  This will set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.