Is my child eating too much food?
Are you worried that your child is “overweight” or eats too much? Should you restrict the amount of food they eat or enforce a ‘no-seconds’ policy at your dinner table? Quick answer: no.
Restricting the amount of food your child eats does not promote a healthy relationship with food or their body. Instead, it leads to binge eating, weight gain, shame and guilt around food.
Some parents think their child (of any age) is eating too much food, and others think that their child is not eating enough food. How do you really know??
If you have been restricting the amount of food that your child is allowed to eat at scheduled meals & snack times, it IS possible that they have reacted by overeating when they get the chance. If your child knows that she will not be allowed to eat until satisfied, she may compensate by stuffing herself when she has the opportunity to do so (and these opportunities increase as your child ages). However, if you have allowed your child multiple portions if they are still hungry, and not tried to control the amount of food they eat, then they probably really are still hungry!
Children are the best regulators of their own appetite. We know some days (or weeks) they eat next to nothing and you wonder how they survive. Other days they could eat and eat and eat! This depends a lot on their growth rates, teething, illness, etc. Remember the Feeding Relationship rules. The only role of the child is to determine how much or if they eat what they are offered. Check out Ellyn Satter’s handout: Your Child’s Weight.
If you are worried because your child is “overweight”, try not to be worried. People come in all shapes, and weight is not the best indicator of health. If you offer your child mostly healthy foods at regular times, in the portions they choose, they will get the food and nutrition they need to grow to their healthy weight (which will change as they age and grow).
To support a your child’s genetically re-determined weight (which varies widely!), let them listen to their own appetite (which also varies widely!).
Watch my video above for more discussion on this topic.
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