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Why Hunger Is Your Best Friend – Challenging The "Clean Plate" Mentality

Jasmine is an exceptional Trauma-informed Emotional Eating Holistic Health and Wellness Coach who gracefully manages her roles as a dedicated mother, wife, and leader in various church ministries. Her journey is marked by notable accomplishments, such as co-authoring two Amazon number 1 Best-Selling books and attaining the esteemed title of a number 1 International best-seller.

Executive Contributor Jasmine Kelly-Stephens

Hunger often gets a bad rap. Many of us were raised with the idea that we should finish everything on our plates, a habit ingrained by well-meaning parents. This "clean plate" mentality, rooted in a desire to avoid waste and ensure proper nourishment, can lead to significant drawbacks. Encouraging or pressuring individuals to finish all the food on their plates regardless of hunger levels can foster an unhealthy relationship with food.

Woman eating in the kitchen

Ignoring your body's signals and eating beyond fullness can lead to overeating, weight gain, digestive issues, and an increased risk of chronic diseases. This disconnection from your body's natural hunger and satiety cues can result in emotional eating, where food becomes a coping mechanism for stress, boredom, or other emotional triggers. Understanding and embracing hunger can be one of the best things you do for your health and well-being. Let's explore why hunger is your best friend and how you can shift your mindset away from finishing your plate.

Embracing hunger as a friend

Hunger is your body's natural way of signaling that it needs fuel. Just as you wouldn't ignore the gas gauge in your car, you shouldn't ignore your hunger signals. Responding appropriately helps maintain a healthy metabolism and energy balance. Embracing hunger and learning to listen to your body's signals can transform your relationship with food. Tuning into hunger cues encourages mindful eating, which involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking. This can lead to better food choices, greater satisfaction, and a healthier relationship with food. By eating only when you're truly hungry and stopping when you're full, you can avoid overeating, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent weight-related health issues. Additionally, eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full can improve digestion, as overeating can strain the digestive system, leading to discomfort and other problems.


Relearning hunger cues

Reconnecting with your body's hunger signals requires practice and patience. Here are some steps to help you:


Eat regularly

  • Avoid letting yourself get too hungry, which can lead to overeating.

Assess hunger levels

  • Before eating, pause to determine if you're truly hungry or eating out of habit, boredom, or emotional need.

Practice mindful eating

  • Focus on your food without distractions.

  • Chew slowly and savor the flavors.

  • Pay attention to how your body feels as you eat.

Serve smaller portions

  • Start with smaller portions and know that you can always go back for more if you're still hungry.

  • This helps prevent the pressure to finish large servings.

Respect your body's signals

  • If you're full, it's okay to leave food on your plate.

  • Save leftovers for later to reduce waste and honor your hunger cues.


Overcoming the "clean plate" mentality

Shifting away from the "clean plate" mentality can be challenging, but it's essential for developing a healthier relationship with food. Here are some strategies to help you:


Reframe your thinking

  • Recognize that it's okay to leave food on your plate.

  • Your health and well-being are more important than adhering to outdated rules about eating.

Practice gratitude

  • Focus on the nourishment and enjoyment the meal provides rather than the amount consumed.

Communicate with family

  • If you're dining with family members who still adhere to the "clean plate" mentality, have an open conversation about your new approach to eating.

  • Explain the importance of listening to your body's signals and ask for their support.

Serve smaller portions

  • Reduce the likelihood of overeating by serving smaller portions.

  • This helps you feel more comfortable leaving food on your plate if you're full.


Embracing hunger as your best friend and moving away from the "clean plate" mentality can profoundly impact your health and well-being. By listening to your body's hunger cues, practicing mindful eating, and setting aside outdated rules, you can develop a healthier, more balanced relationship with food.


Hunger is not an enemy to be feared but a natural and beneficial signal from your body. Embracing hunger and learning to respond to it appropriately helps you stay connected with your body's needs, promotes better health, and can lead to a more enjoyable and fulfilling eating experience. The journey to relearning and honoring your hunger cues is a step toward greater self-awareness and self-care.


In a society that often emphasizes external rules and regulations around eating, reconnecting with your internal signals can feel revolutionary. It allows you to take back control over your eating habits, making choices that are genuinely aligned with your body's needs and your overall well-being. This shift can also have a positive ripple effect on other areas of your life, fostering greater mindfulness, self-compassion, and a deeper connection with yourself.


Ultimately, by viewing hunger as a friend and guide rather than an adversary, you pave the way for a healthier, happier, and more harmonious relationship with food. This approach not only supports physical health but also nurtures emotional and mental well-being, creating a balanced and fulfilling life. Remember, every step you take towards honoring your hunger and breaking free from the "clean plate" mentality is a step towards a healthier you. Embrace this journey with kindness and patience, and celebrate the progress you make along the way. As you learn to trust and respond to your body's signals, you'll find a greater sense of balance, satisfaction, and peace in your relationship with food and in your overall life.


Finally, remember that God created you with a brilliant body that knows what to do to guide you into health and wellness. Trust in this divine design and honor your body by listening to the signals it sends you. Your body is a testament to God's wisdom and care, capable of guiding you toward a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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Jasmine Kelly-Stephens, IIN Holistic Health and Wellness Coach

Jasmine is an exceptional Trauma-informed Emotional Eating Holistic Health and Wellness Coach who gracefully manages her roles as a dedicated mother, wife, and leader in various church ministries. Her journey is marked by notable accomplishments, such as co-authoring two Amazon Number 1 Best-Selling books and attaining the esteemed title of a Number 1 International best-seller.

Jasmine's personal story spans several decades, interwoven with the trials of comfort, stress, and emotional eating. This deeply personal struggle propels her unwavering commitment to addressing the emotional eating crisis, and guiding women towards healing, restoration, and liberation. At the heart of her mission is the empowerment of women, helping them liberate themselves from the chains of shame and guilt linked to emotional eating, all while drawing on her expertise in trauma-informed care. Through this transformative process, women rediscover their relationship with food and their bodies, embracing a journey of self-love and acceptance that brings forth renewed energy, freedom, and confidence to fulfill their divine callings within the Kingdom.

Jasmine firmly believes that the healing experienced by women extends its positive ripples outward, fostering healthier relationships within families and communities. This ripple effect creates a transformative impact for everyone involved. While Jasmine offers personalized coaching tailored for Christian women entrepreneurs, her passion knows no bounds. Actively spreading the message of transformation through speaking engagements and workshops, she aims to reach anyone open to the journey toward healing and well-being.



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