Don’t Clean Your Plate.

Life-With-Mom-Week-14-Clean-Your-PlateWhen I was growing up, my mother taught me to clean my plate. Especially if I wanted some ice cream or cake for dessert. And so, I learned to become a human garbage disposal.

It’s not particularly surprising that I started gaining weight. And still, I kept clearing my plate. By 2nd and 3rd grade, I was severely overweight.

My mother’s “clear your plate” strategy was certainly well intentioned. But, as it turns out, it’s not particularly helpful in creating a healthy or balanced lifestyle. In fact, quite the opposite. In addition to resulting in overeating, it teaches all of us to ignore feelings of hunger or fullness.

11048180Eating everything on your plate is a dangerous game to play. That’s especially true when going out to eat.

According to one study, portion sizes increased for every category of food except pizza between 1977 and 1996. Hamburgers increased in size by 23%. Mexican food portions are 27% larger. Sodas increased by 52%.

Another study found that today’s steaks exceed USDA serving recommendations by 144%. Not to be outdone, muffins are 233% larger. With all that in mind, clearing you plate is a recipe for disaster – and it’s no wonder that more than a third of American adults are obese.

And not clearing your plate doesn’t mean wasting food. You can certainly store food in the refrigerator or freezer and save it for subsequent meals.

It’s time to resign from the clean your plate club. Despite what your mother said, it’s okay to leave food behind. In fact, it’s a very good thing.


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  1. Well maybe taking less food is a better option. Wasting food is terrible, as ~40% of food in grocery stores already go to waste. Pack up what you can or merely order less food. Don’t leave food lingering that the restaurant will have to throw away!
    While portion control can be hard with half of a burger lying right in front of you, ask for a to go box along with your meal, so you can pack it up as soon as you have eaten a fair amount. Put the rest in the box and don’t touch it, tucking it into a corner out of reach.