You’re pretty sure your child has eaten enough… and yet she keeps on going.
You don’t have to be an overeater, to overeat. We all do it. In fact, my daughter frequently powers through a snack way past the point of satiation. Then she’s too full for dinner. Drives me bonkers.
A lot of our kids overeat, but it's not their fault. There's mounting evidence that how much we eat is determined by how much we're served, bellies be damned!
One solution is quite simple: tap into the power of the pregnant pause.
Research shows that anything that breaks the eating momentum, even temporarily, can reduce how much we eat.
Pausing. While Eating. Gives you a chance. To decide. Whether you want more. Or if grabbing more. Is simply. An automatic. Reflex.
I call this pause pregnant because the moment is filled with so much potential, anticipation and with the possibility of more to come.
The pause will only work if your children don’t feel deprived.
Food has to be available after the pause, if your kids want it. (That’s the pregnant part!) Otherwise, the pause will feel like a punishment and it will backfire.
The key is to engage your children in the process of learning how to balance their bodies’ needs and their brain’s desires. Read How Much Should Your Kids Eat?
There are 3 steps to implementing an effective pause:
1) Explain to your children that it sometimes takes awhile to feel full from eating and that pausing is a way to let their bodies send the message - “I’m Full! - to their brains.
2) Encourage your children to play (or do anything else away from the table) for an amount of time – say 15 or 20 minutes.
3) Check in with your kids after the allotted time. Chances are your children will have forgotten about the food. If they still feel hungry, or if they still want to eat (not always the same thing) give them more food. Even if you think they’ve had enough.
This is a long-term solution and it takes practice to get it right. Don’t freak out if your children continue to demand more. Just keep reinforcing the need to pause while eating and, eventually, your kids will get it right.
Another way to pause is to package smaller portions.
Research shows that people eat more from big packages and dishes – up to 30% more. So switch to smaller plates, bowls, serving spoons and Tupperware and your kids will naturally eat less.
And if your kids still want more food, at least they’ll have to wait for a refill, a task that takes time, naturally.
~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~
Tribole, E. and E. Resch, 2003. Intuitive Eating: a Revolutionary Program That Works., Vol. 2nd Edition. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Wansink, B., 2006. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. New York: Bantam Books.