I bet that at some point when you were a kid, some well-meaning adult insisted that you “clean your plate.” (More than likely with the threat of no dessert if you didn’t, right?)
Cleaning your plate might’ve felt like a punishment when you were eight (especially if there were vegetables involved!) But as an adult, it can take on a whole new meaning.
It can turn from a bargaining chip for after-dinner treats to a big-time guilt fest, especially if food and body struggles have ever haunted you.
Because after all, when you “clean your plate,” you might be triggered to refill it. And clean it again. And again…
Talk about fodder for food-based triggers, right?
By now I’ve seen–and personally had–just about every food and body struggle there is. And one of the most pervasive battles is the question of “to clean or not to clean.” Your plate, that is!
Back in the day, I stressed relentlessly about my plate. We’re talking about what was on it, how much I left on it at the end of a meal, even what size it was.
Not to mention the shame of daring to eat every bite on that plate. Or even think about having seconds…
I found that nearly all of this plate-cleaning stress stemmed from the unwritten rules that have floated around the diet world for years. Old-school ideas like these…
Only eat until you’re 70% full.
Leave a quarter of the food on your plate untouched.
Use a smaller plate so that your portions will be smaller.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried ALL of these–and many more!
But let’s be honest. Do you enjoy a meal when you’re busy hacking it? Do random restrictions and nitpicky rules bring make you feel better about your body and your food? And do they even WORK?
I don’t know about you, but that’s a NO on all counts for me!
So today, I’m going to show you why plate regulations don’t work–and that whether or not you clean your plate is a LOT less important than you might think.
Watch below where I share the only mealtime hack that you’ll ever need–and it has nothing to do with cleaning your plate (or not)!
I speak for myself, but at mealtime, I like to sit down, eat in peace, and enjoy my food. Then I want to get up, be done with it, and get on with my life. I bet that sounds good to you too, doesn’t it?
But when I was fighting my body, I lived by every plate-based portion control rule there was. And I learned that the rigid rules had plenty of unintended consequences.
This lead me to discover a few clean-your-plate truth bombs that altogether changed how I looked at my plate strategies!
Here’s what I learned…
Number One: It’s not about your plate at all. Conventional wisdom puts a lot of shame on cleaning your plate. But what if it matters less than you think?
Here’s some serious outside-the-box thinking for you…
It’s not important if you eat every bite or save some for the doggy bag. It’s also doesn’t matter if you choose a full-size dinner plate or try to cram your meal onto a saucer.
What matters is the energy that you (literally) bring to the table.
If you’re unconsciously eating everything in front of you, you’re not making a genuine connection with yourself. You’re just shoveling in food without regard to how you feel or what you need. That leads to overeating, weight gain, and misery.
Then again, if you’re so afraid to take a bite that you leave most of your meal untouched, that can also trigger unintended binging down the road. Not much better, right?
In either case, it’s not your plate that matters. It’s the lack of awareness and intention that you bring to the meal.
And following random rules, tactics, and plate-control hacks are no substitute for connection to yourself.
So if you connect with yourself and listen to your body at mealtime, does it matter whether or not you clean your plate? Not so much.
What matters is that you get out of your head, drop down into your body, and listen to what it needs. That trumps any plate-cleaning, portion-control rules ANY day.
Number Two: What to bring to the table. Forget leaving an arbitrary amount of food on your plate. Never mind what size plate you choose. Instead of trying to keep your portion-control etiquette on point, try a new approach.
The thing about rules, hacks, and tricks is that hey keep you thinking rather than being. Overthinking leads to chaos, fear, and conditioned responses. But mindfulness leads to connection, awareness, and peace.
So instead of worrying if your plate or your portions are too big, take a few deep breaths. Drop from your worried mind into your stable heart. Then do yourself the favor of slowing down.
Eat your meals one bite at a time, being mindful and aware. Take the automation and autopilot away from your mealtime, and be present with your food.
This shift alone will support you more than any mealtime hack ever could.
Number Three: Make cleaning your plate (or not) a non-issue. Now, do yourself the ultimate favor of eliminating the plate-cleaning pressure for good. Because there’s an additional bonus to this strategy that I haven’t shared yet…
Dropping the plate-cleaning pressure helps you navigate your food choices from a place of connection and love rather than distraction and fear.
Let me explain what I mean by that!
Think about it. The more that you look for answers outside yourself, the less you tend to trust your inherent wisdom. This makes a more significant difference with food choices than you might think.
When you’re try to follow diet rules instead of going with what you know your body needs, you second-guess yourself. Before you know it, your mind is running amok with stressful, confused, food-focused thoughts.
We’re talking about mind chatter that sounds something like this…
Should I eat this, should I skip that? This guru said I can eat this carb, but what if I eat this other one instead? And I already at that, should I just blow off the diet and start over tomorrow?
You get the idea.
As I like to put it, it’s like you’re chopped off from the neck down, making decisions from a panicked head rather than a connected heart.
This circles back to the original idea–it’s all about who you’re being at the table, not what’s on your plate at the table. The disconnection from yourself is what leads to dysfunctional eating, not how much you ate or the size of your plate.
So give yourself permission to forget everything you knew about “cleaning your plate.” I’m giving you an invitation to ditch the rules and come back to the REAL you.
I’m talking about the you who knows what to eat, how much to eat, and what foods will honor her the most. The person who knows that it’s NOT the size of your plate or the amount of food you leave on that plate that matters.
When it comes to mindful eating, it’s ALL within you!
Now, I get that this is a radical idea. It can be pretty scary, too, especially if you’ve been living by the portion control policies that police the diet world.
Believe me, I know what kind of chaos comes from trying to conform to food-based rules. I lived in that kind of crazy spiral for over 12 years, and I know how painful the struggle can be.
But at the same time, the idea of leaving those rules behind can make you wonder–what would you do without them? Would all dietary hell break loose if you counted on your inner self to step up and take charge?
Here’s what I know–you CAN learn to trust yourself. And you can break away from ALL the diet rules (including plate-cleaning protocol) and reclaim your power.
This is just what my free training will help you do!
Click the link below and get instant access to my masterclass that will help you recreate your relationship with food–and create a mealtime experience that will support you!
Imagine never worrying about how much food is (or is not) on your plate again. Imagine enjoying a meal, then getting on with your day–no guilt, fear, or panic.
You can do it, and I’m here to help!
My free training is your first step toward Food Freedom Forever! Grab it below!
So what do you think? Have you ever felt confused by whether you should clean your plate, leave food on your plate, or even have a plate in the first place?
Let me know if you’ve struggled with the plate-cleaning, and share any insights or a-has that you had from this post! Which plate-cleaning reality check above resonated with you the most?
Can’t wait to hear from you!