Our kids are far from overweight or obese but they have larger appetites than my wife and I. Generally, how much of this behavior can be attributed to them actually developing or them only wanting to eat out of boredom.
Any other parents made this observation or have this concern?
I have had this concern more than once!
I think that growing kids need extra calories. It seems that my kids will eat like they are hollow at times, but then several weeks into it they will grow an inch overnight. It's almost like they are eating mass quantities to store up for the upcoming energy expenditure!
Other times I think that they are eating out of boredom. This happens especially when they are sitting in front of the television! Turning off the tv, and getting them involved in something usually cures these excess eating times.
My rule of thumb has always been.. if they are eating healthy foods, getting a rounded diet in general, and staying active, I don't worry about it.
Well, last time I checked, up to a certain age, a parent is going to teach their child that they can only eat at specific times, including snacks.
If a parent doesn't have a routine for feeding and/or doesn't provide enough food for the child to eat during meal times, then there's a problem and not actually the fault of the child.
Parents should be completely focused on the value of a nutritional meal to a child, and as determined a long time ago, 3 meals a day not including snacks would be good enough to ensure a child's natural growth.
Yes, it is not always possible to keep your eyes on children 24/7, but there are ways to prevent them from choosing snacks over something leftover in the refrig. Not to mention, if parents only feed cookies and other treats(not including fruits) and doesn't properly feed them the other meals, then overweight could be a problem.
Having snacks around the house, such as apples or oranges or bananas, or canned peaches or pears, would a good nutritional snack. Much better than chocolate or extremely sugary snacks.
Edit: I don't think kids would eat out of boredom, but I guess it would be possible.
Kids who are having a growth spurt may be eating more because they are growing fast. Usually this happens in teen years, if you try not to buy unhealthy foods like crisps, they are more likely to snack on fruit etc.
If they're over 6 they may start to eat more than previously.
If they're boys they often tend to eat more.
If they're teens they're likely to eat more.
If they're teen boys they're REALLY likely to eat more.
If they have big frames (taller than average and broader backs than some kids have) they're likely to eat more.
If they go for long stretches without eating they may eat more.
If they have stress going on (at school, at home, with friends, etc.) they may eat more because stress causes cravings for things like carbs and fats.
If they're extremely athletic and active they may eat more.
If they're not eating satisfying/filling foods at meals they may feel as if they need to eat until they feel satisfied.
If they're eating something like starches at meals they may have a rapid rise in blood sugar followed not very long after by a rapid drop that will make them feel as if they need food (because they could feel weak and shaky, even if they don't feel hungry "stomach-wise")
Having said all that, other than my two (then) teen sons going through their high-eating phase, none of my three kids ever ate much, especially before they were 6. They all tended to be the narrow-shouldered, small-framed, type who didn't have a lot of appetite (at least until the two boys were teens, at which time things changed dramatically when it came to their eating). But, one of my sons (at around 11 years old and who was more stressed in school than the other) would come home from school, chug a couple of giant glasses of milk, say "Ahhhh.. Now I feel good.", and only then feel good enough to go outside to play. He stopped that on his own once that particular stage passed.
I have a seven and a five year old. I notice that one month the older one will eat non-stop then a month later the older one will eat less and the younger one starts to pig out. Neither are putting on visceral fat so I am sure they are just growing. Since you mentioned that your kids are not overweight they are probably just growing too.
Kids go through growth spurts from the time they are born until their late teens -- sometimes later. When they are experiencing one, they will eat pretty much nonstop. When the growth spurt subsides, their eating habit goes back to normal. Go with the flow.
If they are eating tremendous amounts of food and are gaining weight or are not getting any physical activity, it's definitely time to seek help from a physician or nutritionist.
My oldest son told me recently that he does often eat just out of boredom or because he feels like it rather than actual hunger (he's 15)
One tip I was given and think is true and ask myself too when I eat is, if they except any food offered then they are most likely genuinely hungry but if they ask for sweets but don't want a sandwich then it's more likely to be other reasons.
I also don't allow them to snack between meals if they didn't finish the meal. 1st there is the waste issue but also that otherwise they will be eating crisps and other not so healthy foods instead of balanced meals. But my 11 and 15 year olds each more than I do.
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