Overeating in Children

Kids are born with plenty of instincts. There are things they must learn about but also things that they already know. For instance, when a child is no longer hungry they will stop eating. Seems reasonable, huh? They move on to other things and never look back.

Many children learn to eat more than they need. How do they learn this? It used to be that grandmother always said that you should eat everything on your plate. We now understand that this is a detriment to our kids because it forces them to eat even if they are not hungry. Early on, they are challenging their internal fullness meter.

A pediatrician can examine your child and tell if they are not getting enough nutrients on a daily basis. They use various tools including growth percentile charts. They can measure a child’s weight and height to determine if it is in a high or low percentile for their age. A child who weighs more than they should for their age and height can be a cause for concern.

Children go through growth spurts so it may not be alarming in a toddler unless the weight difference is significant. At this point, your doctor may ask about your child’s diet. For toddlers and kindergarten children, the required daily caloric intake is about 1300 to 1600 calories. That is close to adult needs. A good rule of thumb is to give a child one tablespoon of food for each year of their age.

It can be hard to say no to a child, especially when they give you those cute puppy dog eyes. But, in the interest of their health, you may have to find a way.

* Eat as a family – It is said that kids who eat with their families are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. They are also learning to help with dinner and to eat better foods.

* Serve smaller amounts – In anticipation of a second helping, make their first helping smaller. So, when they ask for more, you are actually giving them the other half or quarter which makes up a full serving of each food. This avoids overeating.

* Eat snacks – Kids love to have food in their hand. If they want something between meals, create fun but healthy snacks for them to eat on the go.

Are you concerned that your child could be eating too much? Talk to your doctor and then find a few simple ways to make changes in their eating patterns.