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I was reading a recipe cookbook for kids the other day, looking for find fun clean-eating types of recipes for kids, and I read some studies that were really interesting. Of course, then I wanted to share them with you. 🙂

All in all, the books had one thing in common and it boiled down to one thing: It is OK to Let them QUIT the Clean Plate Club.  Cooking for kids can be a struggle and getting them to eat the right foods can be even harder.

A bowl of cereal with text below it.

So from what I read (and what I have always thought), kids are innately programmed to know how much food is enough for their bodies.  They know how much they need for their bodies’ growth and development.  Now, I am NOT saying that they make the best choices on which foods to eat, but their bodies do tell them when they are full.

What’s the problem?
This can disappear when parents start to control what their kids are eating, instead of letting them do it themselves and regulate their portion size.    We, as parents, are trying to help our kids by making sure that they are eating enough, but we may be getting rid of what is naturally regulated.

In one study of 142 families with kids in Kindergarten, 85% of parents tried to make their kids eat more during mealtime.  They were found to praise their daughters for eating and pressuring their sons to eat more.  (study by University of California, San Francisco)

I also read that parents offer continuous snacks in an effort to ward off hunger, but what we forget is that a little hunger is a good thing because it teaches our kids how to recognize hunger and fullness (letting the brain know when it needs more nourishment).

When we encourage them to “eat more”, it can actually override their nature hunger-regulating system.   This happens if you give them a larger-than-they-need portion size, too.

Penn State University found that if you give a 3-year-old a large portion, they only eat what they want.  By 5, however, they ate way more than they needed, after being served large portion sizes for years.

~It is never too late to quit the clean plate club.  You decide WHAT your child eats and let your child decide HOW MUCH.
~ If your child wants to snack all day, try distracting them and saving it for just a few snacks & a few meals, instead of continuous snacking ALL day long.
~ Don’t fill up on junk.   Did you know that kid’s cereals have 66% more sugar?  I read that this week, too.



picky eater toddler

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting stats! I got all worked up over the ped’s recommendation that my one year be getting 20-24 ounces of milk (almond milk in our case) after transitioning off formula. My little says nope. She’s getting I’d say at least 12 but normally 16 to 18 ounces so definitely in the ballpark. But then I talk to other moms who peds say anywhere from 8 to 24 oz. The moral of the story? She’ll have what she needs as long as I’m giving her the appropriate opportunities to have them. We are definitely not a clean plate family.