The Child Who Eats Too Much

Children only eat too much when they are afraid of going hungry. When you follow division of responsibility in feeding, your child will eat how much she needs in order to grow in the way nature intended for her. As long as her weight follows close to the same percentile on the growth curve, she is growing well. 

Some children eat a lot and love to eat

  • Some children eat a lot, others not so much.
  • Some love to eat, but that doesn't mean they eat too much.
  • Some children are big, others are small.
  • Some children who don't eat much are still relatively heavy. 

Feed in the best way

  • Get started with family meals, if you aren't having them already.
  • Have your child join in with family meals and sit-down snacks at set times. Don't let her have food or drinks between times, except for water.
  • Have the same meal for everyone. Include high-fat and low-fat food.
  • Include ''forbidden'' foods at meals and snacks. Trying to restrict those foods will make her eat more of them in the long run.
  • When in doubt, ask yourself, ''how would I feed her if I weren't worried about her eating or weight?''

Don't restrict either amounts or types of food 

Your child will feel hurt, get scared, and genuinely eat too much if you . . . 

  •  Hold back on food,
  • Try to control her portion size.
  • Restrict high-fat, high-sugar food, (See  'forbidden'' foods.) 
  • Push low-calorie food ("eat your vegetables before you can have dessert").
  • Feed her differently from other family members.
  • Give her the look when she seems to eat a lot. 

What if weight percentiles go up?

Don't try to restrict her food intake. Instead, feed in the best way for her stage of development.Follow a division of responsibility in feeding, keep your nerve, and let her eat and grow her way. 


For more about raising children who eat as much as they need and get bodies that are right for them (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Your Child's Weight: Helping Without Harming, Kelcy Press, 2005. Also see to purchase books and to review comprehensive educational materials that teach stage-related feeding and solve feeding problems.

Join Ellyn Satter on Facebook

Sign up for the ESI mailing list

Say thanks for this great information by making a donation to ESI!

©2016 by Ellyn Satter published at You may reproduce this article if you don't charge for it or change it in any way and if you do include the for more about and copyright statements.