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Healthy Living

We live in a culture in which many restaurants are renowned for supersizing virtually every item on their menu and parents often overestimate the amount of food that their children need. That kind of thinking can put youngsters on the fast track to obesity.

Keep in mind that your child does not require the same serving size as an adult. In the same way, portion sizes should be different for a 5-year-old and a 15-year-old. Even so, many parents remain confused over how big their children’s servings should be. The key here is to feed age-appropriate portions to your youngster.

One way to help avoid serving excessively large portion sizes to your child is to make sure that there are a variety of food groups on her plate. If you serve her a protein source such as chicken, 2 vegetables, and pasta for dinner, there simply won’t be room on her plate to overdo it on the pasta, for example.

You should also encourage your child to eat slowly. Some overweight children race through their meals and have no idea how much they’re really eating. By slowing down the pace, an older child in particular will be able to judge whether she is still hungry. She’ll be giving her brain the chance to recognize that she has eaten enough to feel satisfied, and when she’s no longer hungry, she’s more likely to stop eating. Also, by taking smaller bites and chewing her food more thoroughly, she’ll enjoy her food more.

By eating together as a family, you can help your child with healthy eating habits as well as provide valuable family together time. Keep meals pleasant and focus on the positives. Remember that your job is to provide nutritional, well-balanced meals in the proper portions, and your child will decide what to eat.  Overfocusing on food and eating can be replaced by finding out what happened at school and with their friends and leave time for family interactions. 


Last Updated
A Parent's Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.