Can the “Clean Plate” rule be good for your kid’s health?

Can the “Clean Plate” rule be good for your kid’s health?

Parents who hope to control their children’s weight by imposing rules that demand a clean plate or by restricting certain types of foods may be surprised to learn their efforts might be having the opposite effect of what they hoped for.

The surprising results of a new study showed that parents who are restrictive in which foods their kids can and cannot eat generally have children who are obese.  And those who pressure their kids to finish what’s on their plates have children in the normal weight range for their age.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota surveyed more than two thousand adolescents and nearly 3,500 parents to gain insight on the effectiveness of imposing rules around eating.

“Research has shown that when a parent places a restriction on a particular food item (i.e. no treats) that a child becomes more interested in consuming that food item and will often over eat that food when given the opportunity. Instead, parents should be encouraged to allow their children to eat all foods in moderation,” said the study’s lead author, Katie Loth, in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly one-third of all American children and teens are either overweight or obese. The CDC recommends taking the following steps to support a healthy environment at home:

  • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, and beans for protein.
  • Serve reasonably-sized portions.
  • Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat.

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One Comment

  1. Moderation is key! My kids are great eaters! It’s rare that they don’t finish the food on their plate, and at the same time, they get treats from time to time as well.

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.