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Sectional Plates Part 3: Q & A + Giveaway

Posted Feb 28 2012 12:00am
Plate courtesy of
(On the plate is last night's dinner: Kale chips, millet stir fry, salsa/blackbean chicken)

Welcome back to Part 3 of our sectional plates discussion  (Part 1  ,  Part 2 ).  Many of my readers emailed me (with pictures too!) to tell me how the 'half-plate veggies' perspective has changed the way they think about food for themselves, how they serve food to their children, and how they shop for food.  After all, you can't fill half your plates with vegetables if you didn't buy enough vegetables at the store.  I am thrilled to hear that this method is helping kids and adults eat healthier.  Some of you also asked great questions about the use of sectional plates.
Below you will find some of these questions and answers. 

AND...Two readers will receive a sectional plate thanks to  and .
To be entered into our plate giveaway, please leave a comment below.
Extra entrees: 
Facebook: Go to Beyond Prenatal's facebook page and share the giveaway update
Twitter:  Use my twitter handle @BeyondPrenatal when you tweet about the giveaway 

Question 1 (Three years ago before I owned sectional plates, I posed this question to Ellyn Satter):
I am planning on buying a couple of sectional plates for my toddler.  I think that sectional plates are better than regular plates because each section has its own lip, making it easier to get food on the utensil, thereby giving the child more autonomy at meal times. The sections can also be a useful way of providing different groups of food. However, I am concerned that sectional plates might feed into the 'separate food' problem often seen in toddlers, where different food cannot touch each other.  I would love for you to weigh in on this.

Answer 1 by Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, LCSW, BCD
"Thanks for the interesting question.  In this month's Family Meals Focus  (March 2009) I write about Snack Traps and Tippy cups. Compared with the potential for abuse associated with those two inventions, I think sectional plates are a minor issue. I would say use what you feel most comfortable with. If parents maintain a division of responsibility in feeding and don't put pressure on children's eating, they will learn and grow with their plates as well as with anything else. If parents put pressure on eating, children pick on any number of strange and eccentric things to get hung up on and to use to jerk their parents along--including having to have exactly the right kind of plate before they will eat. 

Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, LCSW, BCD (Ellyn Satter Associates)
4226 Mandan Crescent, Suite 50, Madison, WI 53711
            608-271-7976            www.EllynSatter.com   

Question 2 (Posed by a thoughtful reader of this blog):
"I am wondering what your thoughts are generally about special plates for kids.  Meaning - if we were to get sectional plates, it would be another way in which Natalie's plates  were different/separate from ours.  On the weekends, she eats with us and eats what we eat (no special white "kid" food for her, etc.).  On weeknights she tends to eat alone, as we eat later in the night, but I like the idea of her using the same dishes that we use and thinking that we all eat the same food, the same way.  I think there is a tension here." -Thoughtful Reader 

Answer 2
You are correct. There is a bit of a tension here. Ideally we would eat on the same plate as our kids;  but while a 1-3 year old may be okay with a real plate under your supervision, if you will not be able to monitor them 100% at the table and you don't want broken plates, a kids plate is ideal. It's certainly more important to be calm at mealtime and not stressing about broken plates.  If you are accustomed to using a paper plate, feel free to use it for both of you (and recycle it!). It's not the plate that matters but ultimately, its how you fill it.  As kids become 3, 4, & 5 years old they may want to eat similarly to their parents and can transition to real plates.  But if they don't care, I don't really think it matters.  If you are transitioning to healthy eating, a sectional plate can be a very useful teaching tool.  In fact, a  research study  this month (see how timely I am!) showed that school students are more likely to eat fruits and veggies if their lunch tray sections had pictures on them. A child doesn't understand how to eat in today's society unless they are taught; gently showing them the way via pictures and/or sections helps.  Also, what Ellyn said above applies here too: don't pressure on children's eating and use what feels best for you. 

Lastly, a few of you seemed to be concerned about sufficient protein intake and growth spurts while using the sectional plates.  It's a great question, a great opportunity to talk about division of responsibility.  But...I will address this in another post. 


AND do not forget to enter the sectional plate giveaway! Two readers will receive a sectional plate thanks to  and .
To be entered into our plate giveaway, please leave a comment below.
Extra entrees: 
Facebook: Go to  Beyond Prenatal's facebook page  and share the giveaway update
Twitter:  Use my twitter handle  @BeyondPrenatal  when you tweet about the giveaway

You may also be interested in reading Sectional Plates Part 1  (Types of sectional plates and benefits)
Sectional Plates Part 2  (Pics of 'half-plate veggies')

More pictures and ideas coming soon, stay tuned!
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