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  • Noa Miller

The 1-2-3 Guide to Overeating in Kids

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

by Noa Miller, RDN

It's perfectly normal to snack on something yummy just because it's yummy and not because you're hungry. But if your child seems to be doing this frequently, it's worthwhile to take a look and examine why this might be happening. Here are some common causes:

Reason #1: Your Child Feels Restricted

What you can do:

  • Reassure your child that there will be plenty of fun food available throughout their lives

  • Keep fun-foods on the menu daily and consider having dessert on the menu sometimes as well

  • Practice serving fun food family-style (unlimited) at snack-time on occasion

Please do not:

  • Eliminate all fun food from your home

  • Prompt your child to eat less of certain foods

  • Pester your child about whether they are really still hungry

Reason#2: Your Child is Trying to Manage His/Her Emotions

What you can do:

  • Teach and model healthy coping skills

  • Teach a rich emotional vocabulary

  • Read children’s books about dealing with emotions

  • Seek advice from a therapist

  • Validate emotions

  • Help problem-solve

  • Teach/model self-care

  • Meet the need without food:

  • Sadness: soothe, give a hug

  • Anger: help set and maintain boundaries

  • Fear: protect from danger (we do not protect anxiety! A real danger must be involved)

  • Anxiety: help confront the anxiety-provoking situation with love and support

Please do not:

  • Dismiss emotional needs (some of us are more needy!)

  • Ignore emotional displays

  • Shame an emotional display (ex. Boy crying – I thought you were tougher than that)

  • Give treats to “fix” a boo-boo

Reason #3: Your Child is Bored

What you can do:

  • Provide structure to your child's day

  • Have child write a list of activities they can do when he or she is bored

  • Have times when kitchen is open and closed

Please do not:

  • Restrict food


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