I have some great memories from family dinner tables when I was a child. But I also have some moments that were unpleasant. Any time things went south at the table, it revolved around our "clean plate club".  This was pretty common for families a few decades ago. You will find it still exists it lots of families today.

Christmas Dinner
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But should we be having "clean plate clubs?" Is this promoting bad eating habits.

When I was growing up, you did not get dessert unless you cleaned your plate. I can remember times when those lima beans or mustard greens would sit on my plate untouched. I couldn't stand em. But I wanted dessert. It might be banana pudding, carrot cake or strawberry shortcake. It was always scrumptious.

My brothers and I would often try to find creative ways to make those nasty veggies disappear. But usually, we'd get caught and not join the "clean plate club" that night.

Researchers are now saying this is a bad idea. The American Academy of Pediatrics concludes:

Given that there is accumulating evidence for the detrimental effects of controlling feeding practices on children’s ability to self-regulate energy intake, these findings suggest that parents should be educated and empowered through anticipatory guidance to encourage moderation rather than over consumption and emphasize healthful food choices rather than restrictive eating patterns.

HealthyChildren.org says there are some "Golden Eating" rules and the clean plate club is something we should do away with.

There’s absolutely no reason to provide pressure for children with normal development and health to eat. Don’t reward children for finishing their dinner with more food (ie, dessert), as children will often eat past their fullness.

Researchers also say you should only eat when your body is hungry and stop eating when you are full. Pediatricians say infants do this when breastfeeding and we should continue this as they grow up. Don't try to determine how much food your child should eat. Let them decide.

My concern is what if your child only wants chicken nuggets? How much control do you give the child? Would you send them to bed hungry if your family was eating fish or meatloaf one night.

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