How to Handle Young Children Who Overeat
If you have young children there are many things to think about when it comes to being healthy. Sometimes you may be a little concerned with a child that seems to be overeating. The stomach of a young child is only about the size of their clenched fist, so if your child is eating a lot more than that, you may need to step in.
Learning to eat a healthy portion of food is a lifelong skill to teach any child. It is important, though, to not make your child feel like you are ‘policing’ their meals, and don’t make a huge deal about food control because that can backfire.
For actual meals, let them eat as much as they want. If a child feels like food is being monitored they may actually eat more because they can be afraid the food will run out. This applies to mealtimes only- we will talk about snacks next.
Did you know that over 25% of the calories you child consumes each day comes from snacks? Snacks can be a good thing, but you need to have specific snack times and offer healthy foods during that time.Many kids don’t even need snacks at all.
Consistency is the most important thing when it comes to eating. Have set mealtimes and snack times. Let your child know what to expect. If you don’t give in to snack requests at other times of the day, your child will learn to eat during those times to satisfy their hunger.
Even children as young as 3 can recognize the signs of hunger and being full. You can also explain to your child that it takes 15 to 20 minutes for our brains to realize we are full. Maybe sit at the table and talk or play for 15 minutes after most of the meal is eaten.
Some kids may eat out of boredom or stress, so be aware of this as well. If you think your child is having emotional issues please see a doctor first.
For me I have one child who loves to eat everything in sight, who will literally sit at the kitchen counter and eat all day if I let her and another child who is on the opposite side of the spectrum, whom I worry about is not getting enough nutrients to live. So, what is a parent to do?
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