Do your kids seem like they have a stomach that just never seems to get full?! Our friends at Baby Center and Sandra Bastin a Food and Nutrition Specialist help make sense of why kids can eat so much!
So don’t worry too much about your little bottomless pit. Children are born with an innate sense of how much they need to eat, and you’ve got to respect these inborn cues. That doesn’t mean that you should give your child free rein in the snack closet, but you should offer your child healthy food whenever she’s hungry, while making sure that she also gets plenty of physical activity in his day as well.
Here are some suggestions for working with a constant eater:
Encourage Healthy Choices
When your child asks for a snack ten times a day, don’t let her choose chips all the time. Kids don’t need any more fat in their diets than adults do. While chips are an okay snack every once in a while, try to steer your child toward more nutritious choices on a regular basis, like fruit, cheese, and whole grains. Even crackers, popcorn, and pretzels are usually less fattening options.
Have Food Available for Her at all Times
When my son gets home from elementary school, he’s hungry, and he should be. He’s been at school learning, running around at recess, and playing with his friends all day. He’s used a lot of energy, and when he gets home he wants to replenish his energy reserves. So what do I do? I always have fresh fruit out for him when he walks through the door. I’ve seen firsthand how having a fruit bowl out on the counter will inspire family members to eat from it, and fruit is a great handy snack that kids enjoy.
Don’t Force Your Child to Clean her Plate
You may think that if you can get your child to eat all of her macaroni now, she won’t bug you in a few hours for a snack. But making kids eat when they don’t want to is not a good idea. If children are taught to ignore their “I’m full” cues, that can lead to eating problems down the line, including overeating and obesity.
“I’m Hungry” Tactic
If your child is using the “I’m hungry” refrain to delay bedtime (a common stalling tactic), offer her a snack one to two hours before bedtime — and then make it clear that the kitchen is closed for the night. In addition, if it seems like your child is using food for psychological reasons, it’s probably a cry for attention. Try to spend more time with her individually or make an effort to spend time together as a family.
As long as your child isn’t overweight (according to the growth charts at the pediatrician’s office) and you’re offering nutritious foods, then your child’s constant eating isn’t really a problem. It just means you have to make more frequent trips to the supermarket.
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