Forcing a child to clear their plate could lead them to overeating.
A study by the University of Nebraska warns the ‘clean plate’ policy often followed at many childcare centres can be dangerous and potentially fuelling overeating, reports Daily Mail.
Previous research suggests that when kids experience controlling feeding practices, they can lose their ability to follow their own hunger cues and to stop eating when they’re full.
Over time, children forced to clean their plates at every meal may gravitate toward sugary foods and snacks and run the risk of becoming overweight or obese.
In a recent survey, however, some daycare workers mistakenly believed a clean plate club approach would encourage kids to develop a healthy appetite, researchers report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, September 17.
‘This study also found that childcare providers use controlling feeding practices because of fear of parents’ negative reaction if they find that their child did not eat,’ said lead study author Dipti Dev, a child health behavior specialist at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
‘Childcare providers should avoid controlling feeding practices such as avoiding giving food as reward, encouraging but not pressuring children to eat their food and avoiding to praise children for cleaning their plates,’ Dev added.
We asked our mums what they thought was best Clean plate vs Full tummy
It seems parents today are leaning towards not forcing children to eat as long as they have tried to eat a bit of everything offered. Compared to in the past when children were always forced to stay at the dinner table until their plate was clean. (Now I know why my FIL always glares at me when I leave things on my plate!)
One mum wrote, “When they are full BUT they can’t ask for icecream, yogurt or any snacks if they say they are full. My 4yo is like “I’m full” 10 mins later “can I have a yogurt or icecream” I’m like “finish your dinner and we will talk about it”
Another said, “I don’t force them to eat it all. They do however need to eat the majority of vegetables or salad if they expect to get anything for dessert when we have it.”
“I don’t eat my whole plate when I’m hungry so why would I force my children? I serve nutritional meals that we all enjoy and when we’re full we stop eating”, wrote another.
“I don’t agree with forcing but if they get hungry later there is fruit only.”
“I don’t force them to finish but they need to make a decent attempt at eating. If they say they are full than no more food.”
“I leave it on the table. They don’t have to eat it but they don’t get anything else. If they finish their plates (I put proper amounts that err on too small vs too big) and are hungry then the fridge is theirs.”
“I have no problems with my boys eating. I’ve never put restrictions on meals and snacks…They eat me out of house and home. I don’t think they’ve ever refused anything I’ve put in front of them. If kids are hungry they will eat. I wouldn’t be too worried about it…”
“Mine have to put it in the fridge and if hungry later, get it out and eat it. Normally the phrase “it’s a long time till breakfast” works a treat.”
“I used to have to sit at the table at school (in England we had cooked ‘dinners’ (lunches)) until I finished. I remember watching the dinner ladies clearing up. Missed out on a lot of playtime. We should eat until we are satisfied not feeling full.”
Join our Facebook discussion below: