Meeting your preschooler’s nutritional needs helps them grow and develop holistically. It’s tough for young children who exhibit picky-eating or undereating to meet these needs; that’s why parents find themselves looking out for ways to feed them. But, what if your preschooler is overeating? Should it raise concerns? How can you reinforce healthy eating habits in them?
My child wants to eat all the time; should I worry?
Seeing your preschooler happily eat the foods you prepare for them will surely make you feel satisfied. It might make you believe that you don’t have to worry about their diet and nutrition because they have a healthy appetite.
However, you also have to know when your child is overeating regularly because it can lead to childhood obesity. Your preschooler may be overeating if:
- They constantly ask you for food, even if it’s not mealtime yet.
- They request for extra servings.
- Their weight gain is more than the expected weight gain for their age.
- They are wearing clothes an age or two above their real age.
What can I do if my preschooler is overeating?
If you have a feeling that your child is overeating, you can intervene by doing the following:
Do things slowly
If your family regularly consumes high-fat food products, fast foods, and sugary desserts, don’t remove all of them from your meals at once. Consider eliminating one type of food at a time to avoid frustration. Experts say that doing things slowly increases your chances of success.
Swap less-nutritional foods with healthy alternatives
One of the possible reasons why a preschooler is overeating is that they are hungry; this hunger could come from consuming empty-calorie foods that do not meet their nutritional needs.
Try finding healthy alternatives to their less-nutritional foods. For instance, instead of giving them candies for desserts, offer them cut-up grapes.
Set mealtime schedules and stick to them
Preschoolers may still be young, but they are old enough to follow simple rules. If you tell them that your family will have regular mealtimes (and snack times) from now on, they’ll most likely listen, especially when they see that everyone in the family is following the schedule.
If your child wants to eat all the time, setting mealtime schedules also help regulate their appetite. You’ll help them realize that they have already eaten earlier, so there’s no need to eat now; after all, they’ll eat again later.
Use kiddie-sized plates
Remember that your preschooler’s portions are smaller than yours, so consider using kiddie-sized plates and glasses for them. You can also use the plate portion guidelines from the Pinggang Pinoy by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI):
- The serving of vegetables should be as much as the serving of carbohydrates.
- When combined, vegetables and carbohydrates must cover more than half of your child’s plate.
- The serving of fruits should be as much as the serving of proteins; these two food groups will cover the rest of your child’s plate.
As for examples, you can consider filling up your preschooler’s plate with the following:
- ½ cup of cooked rice
- 2 slices of loaf bread (small)
- 2 pieces of pandesal
- ½ cup of cooked noodles (pancit, spaghetti, etc.)
- ½ piece of root crop like kamote (medium size)
- ½ cup of cooked veggies like malunggay, pumpkin, carrots, etc.
- ½ piece of fish (medium variety, like galunggong)
- ½ slice of fish (large variety, like bangus)
- ½ serving or 15 grams of lean meat, like chicken and beef
- ½ piece of small chicken egg
- ½ to 1 piece of medium sized fruits like banana and mangoes
- ½ to 1 slice of large fruits like watermelon and papaya
Practice the 20-minute rule
And finally, if you’re preschooler is overeating, try the 20-minute rule. The idea is that if your child asks for more food after a meal, ask them to wait for 20 more minutes.
Experts say this is usually the amount it takes before children feel that they are already full.
If you’re worried about your child’s weight and nutrition, set an appointment with their doctor. They can help determine if your child’s weight gain is unhealthy or it’s normal due to their growth spurt. Moreover, they can guide you in meeting your preschooler’s nutritional needs.
Learn more about Preschooler Nutrition here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.