table-cloth

Have you noticed how people in the same family can have very different sleeping and eating patterns. One may be an early riser which is hard when it’s a young child and their parents just want to sleep that extra half-hour or so. Another may be a night owl and love sleeping longer in the morning. The same goes for our appetites. Some children (and adults) eat more of their food in the first half of the day, whereas others ‘eat like birds’ in the morning and are ravenous in the evening. Generally, there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s part of our makeup just like the colour of our eyes or hair or how tall we are.

When I see parents in my practice, I get them to bring a record of what their child has eaten over the past few days. Not only does this tell me about what they eat, but also when they eat. Healthy children will eat approximately the same amount (kilojoules) of food each day. However the amount they eat at each meal can vary greatly from day to day for some children. Others may be like the children I described earlier who usually eat more in the morning and less in the evening or visa versa. In order for your child to enjoy mealtimes and to have the body they were intended to, it is important not to try and change these innate patterns. Letting children eat as much or as little as they want at each meal will establish good eating patterns.