Trying to get your child to eat less backfires. Unless we spoil it, children are good at knowing how much they need to eat. Some days they don’t eat much; other days they eat more than you can ever imagine. If you try to decide how much your child eats, he will stop knowing how much he needs to eat and eat more than he needs. Even if he tries to please you and eat less, he won’t be able to help himself. He will still sneak food or eat a lot when he gets the chance.
Do not use these sneaky ways of trying to get your child to eat less:
- Dishing up his plate rather than letting him serve himself.
- Controlling portion sizes.
- Banning second helpings.
- Making him eat vegetables or finish them before he can have firsts or seconds of other foods.
- Run out of foods he really likes and might eat a lot of.
- Mostly buy and fix diet or low-calorie foods.
- Ban or hardly ever allow sweets or high-fat food.
- Have only “healthy” foods and do “healthy” cooking: low fat, high-fiber, heavy on the fruits and vegetables, low in sugar.
- Giving him “the look” when he eats a lot.
Instead of restricting your child’s food intake, follow a division of responsibility in feeding. Then ask yourself, “am I doing this because I am worried about his weight?” If the answer is “yes,” don’t do it.
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 www.EllynSatterInstitute.org/store to purchase books and to review other resources.