Do you swear to yourself you won’t finish everything on your plate but at the end of the meal realize that you inhaled all your food yet again? Welcome to the “Clean Plate Club” 🙂 (One that most of us don’t really want to be a part of!)

So many of us struggle with wanting to clean our plates. But in the process of becoming normal eaters, it can be a valuable skill to learn how to leave the clean plate club behind for good 🙂

Here are 3 tips to help you quit the clean plate club:

quit the clean plate club

1. Remind yourself: It’s waste in the trash can or waste in your stomach.

Geneen Roth says it best in her book, “Women, Food and God”: (If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it!)

“The truth is that you either throw the food out or you throw it in, but either way it turns to waste.”

Many of us grow up being told to finish our plates. (I remember I had to eat all of my dinner before I got dessert. This resulted in many attempts to hide ham, peas, and steak in my glass of milk so that I didn’t have to finish but would still get dessert 🙂 )

We become accustomed to hearing, “There are starving children in Africa. Finish your food!”.

The reality is that finishing our plates has no direct impact on solving world hunger. Yes, it’s helpful not to waste your food, but while you’re learning how to eat in a way that serves you, give yourself permission to throw something out.

Our bodies all need a certain amount of food. It’s a form of self-care and nourishment to honor what exactly how much we need and not give it any more 🙂

2. Ask Yourself: How Much Is Enough?

Before you serve yourself any food, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath and ask yourself: how much is enough?

This question gently nudges us to move away from our mind’s directives, food rules, and harsh “shoulds” around what we are and aren’t supposed to eat.

We normally just dish out food onto our plate, wanting to hurry through the meal and get it done and over with.

But when we get still and ask ourselves “how much is enough” it creates the space for something new to emerge: your own body’s wisdom of how much you need.

As binge eaters, serial dieters and everything in between, enough is often a concept we aren’t familiar with. Begin to play with the idea of what “enough” means when you eat.

At first you won’t know how much is enough. That’s normal 🙂 But as you experiment and keep asking, you’ll soon be able to discern what is the right amount to put on your plate (so you don’t waste any food!)

3. Get Curious.

When you have a few moments to yourself (away from your meal), ask yourself why you feel like you have to finish the food on your plate. Do you feel guilty about wasting it? Is it a stressful eating environment that’s triggering you to use food? Are you unsure of when you’re full? Is the food too good to leave?

Look at the reason why. And then see if you can address it.

If it’s guilt, can you engage in some self-talk to reassure yourself you don’t need to feel guilty throwing something out? (And if you have food guilt, watch this video!)

If it’s stress related eating, is there something you can try to eliminate that’s the cause of the stress? (Eating alone can help or giving yourself permission to eat at a different time than your family-many times dinner with the family can be busy and stressful!)

If it’s a habit, can you put less food on your plate to create a new habit? Or pause every few minutes to check in with yourself about how you feel? 

It can take some time to let go of cleaning your plate, but it’s well worth experimenting with!


It’s your turn now…do you struggle with the clean plate club? Which one of these tips can you use next time you eat? Share in the comments below!