My son has a ravenous appetite and never seems full.  I don’t want him to feel hungry, but I also want to make sure he’s not overeating.

There’s definitely a balance to strike between the natural tendencies of a mother to feed her kids, and the sensibility to not over-feed them!  Here are some strategies for making sure your kids are getting enough (but not too much) food:

  • Is she a carbo-loader? Oftentimes, incessantly hungry kids are actually loading up on carbs, which spike their blood sugar.  When their blood sugar drops, they feel hungry.  Make sure to balance out carbs with good sources of protein (beans, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, eggs, lean meats), healthy fats (avocado, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds) and stick with complex carbs like whole grains, which contain fiber for satiety.
  • Is he thirsty?  Thirst is sometimes disguised as hunger.  Make sure your kids are getting plenty of water, especially as it starts to warm up.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes! (photo from

    At meals, don’t put all of the food out on the table at once. I truly believe in “out of sight, out of mind.”  Serve meals at the counter and leave remaining food there instead of on the table.  This should help prevent the inevitable post-meal picking that happens after meals are finished!

  • Watch portion sizes.  Pay attention to portion sizes.  Especially in the U.S., we have gotten accustomed to huge restaurant servings that have now made their way into our homes, but it’s really much more food than we need!  Don’t follow that lead.  Learn what an appropriate serving size is for what you’re eating, and remember that it will vary by age/gender. This is a good source to help educate you on portion control.
  • Explore her feelings.  Gently probe about school (tests, friends) or other worries that may be on her mind.  She may be emotionally eating to compensate for her feelings.  Once you bring awareness to her feelings, the overeating will resolve.

Remember, too, that every child has a different metabolism, and the more active kids are, the more calories they need.  Keep an eye on his weight—if his appetite doesn’t change, but he’s not gaining weight, then his current eating habits are probably in balance.

– Stacey Antine, MS RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA

What puzzles you about keeping your family healthy?  Tell us what’s on your mind by emailing [email protected].  Stacey will answer those questions here weekly.

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