The Medical Information in this post was provided by Monica Fisher, M.D., a licensed Pediatrician.
There is a fine balance between helping kids eat enough and helping them not eat too much, but how do you really handle a 7-year-old who eats all the time? After talking to a licensed pediatrician and doing a lot of research I came up with some answers.
How should you handle a 7-year-old who eats all the time? 7-year-old kids should not be allowed to eat all the time. Parents are responsible for when, how, and what their 7-year-old child eats. Counsel with your 7-year-old and create boundaries for when they can and cannot eat.
It is easy to let your kids come home and have a snack while they are doing homework, but when an occasional snack turns into constant eating, it can be very unhealthy for a 7-year-old. Using the advice of Monica Fisher, a licensed pediatrician, and research on the topic, I have outlined why children shouldn’t overeat and ways for parents to help regulate what their 7-year-old is eating.
What do You do When Your 7-Year-Old Eats All the Time?
When a child is 7-years-old they are still in the constant care of their parents. Kids who are only 7 years of age are young and need their parents to help guide them concerning their eating habits.
Whether or not a 7-year-old child is eating to much falls onto the shoulders of their parents. It is the parent’s responsibility to determine when a child will eat, what they will eat, and how they eat. This is an important responsibility.
It can be hard to know what is too much eating and how to help their 7-year-olds move past bad eating habits. There are quite a few suggestions that can really help parents and their 7-year-old kids grow together towards healthy eating goals.
Counsel as a Family
It is very helpful knowledge to know that your child shouldn’t be eating all of the time, but if your child already is doing that the question then becomes “How do I help my 7-year-old stop eating all of the time?”
Pediatrician Monica Fisher explained that having a family council to talk about eating and how much is an appropriate amount of food to be eating. These family counsels are good for the parents as well as the 7-year-old kids that are also involved.
Not all of these counsils need to go exactly the way I have explained below but this model can be a suggestion to help parents develop their own family counsel that works best for them.
In these counsils it would be wise to begin by asking your 7-year-old why they eat and whether or not they think eating is important; then, parents can work off their 7-year-olds existing knowledge to explain the importance of food and why we eat.
After you have successfully helped your 7-year-old understand why we eat and the importance of food, you can then begin to review the eating habits of your family with your 7-year-old and ask them to help you identify times when the family is eating that is not needed.
Then together you can come up with an appropriate eating schedule and help them to understand that their eating habits are going to change. Then parents must take the lead in enforcing these new eating habits.
One of the best ways to enforce these habits is my switching up the type of food that your 7-year-old is eating. It is normal for kids to want an after school snack but there is a big difference between endless bags of chips and controlled portion sized healthy snacks that are provided by the parents.
There are a lot of creative and healthy snakes that can help your child to become healthier as well as fulfill their desire to eat a snake in-between school and dinner. Plus when parents are providing this snake it means that they get to control portion sizes.
Healthy snakes can be fun and easy to make. Some quick and easy healthy snacks include:
- Sliced apple and a cheese stick
- Peanut butter with celery and apples
- Fruit bowl
- Half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and fruit
- Dried Fruit
- Homemade healthy trail mix
- Yogurt and granola
- Cucumber caterpillars
- homemade whole fruit Popsicle
- Butterfly snack bags (snack sized Ziploc bags with one half filled up with fruit and the other half filled up with some sort of fun snack ex. gold fish or raisins and a clothespin clipped in-between)
This is just a small list of some healthy snack ideas for 7-year-olds. The best thing about having these snack prepared for your 7-year-old is that you decide the portion size.
Set Times When Eating is and is not Acceptable
Being in control of the portion sizes are important because it lets your child know that they can’t just eat whatever they want whenever they want, but that they need to ask before they eat and only eat what you are giving them.
This plays a big role when trying to help your 7-year-old child to know when it is appropriate to eat and when it is not appropriate. At the age of sevena child should not be able to walk into the kitchen whenever they want and eat whatever they want.
It is totally fine for kids to be self-sufficient and to be able to serve themselves, but there needs to be rules and regulations so that your seven-year-old doesn’t just eat whenever they want.
When you are counseling together as a family it is a good idea to talk with your child about the times when it is appropriate to eat. There are the three main meals breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then a snack once in-between lunch and dinner.
If your children understand that there are specific times set aside for eating it can help your 7-year-old to know when they should be eating. Hopefully, they will be able to limit themselves, so they are not eating all of the time.
No Eating in Front of the TV or Electronic devices.
A great way to ensure that your child is not mindlessly eating all of the time is to not allow eating while watching/playing the TV or any electronic device.
When anyone is sitting in front of a TV and there is food in front of them they will normally eat whether or not they are hungry. So, if we explain that we only eat when we are hungry and then make a rule not to eat in front of the TV it can help keep your 7-year-old from eating all of the time.
How do Parents Control How, When, and What 7-Year-Old Children are Eating?
It is hard to know how to prepare meals for a 7-year-old and even harder to know how much of the meal your child should eat and what foods you need to make sure they are eating.
Growing up the rule at my house (and a lot of people’s houses) was that in order to leave the table we had to eat everything that was on our plates. If we didn’t like funeral potatoes it was “to bad” because we had to eat them.
Nutritionists have found recently that a better way to feed our children is to provide the meals and portion sizes and then allow our children to determine how much of that meal they want to eat and what foods they want to eat. This way the parents are controling the type of foods being eaten and the children get to pick what they want to eat from that.
This is a great method but one that doesn’t really work if the parents aren’t initially controlling the portion sizes or they are allowing their 7-year-old to eat whenever they want throughout the day. The bigger the portion sizes that we provide our children with the more they are likely to eat.
Also if we allow our children to eat whatever they want whenever they want throughout the day, we run into the risk of our children not wanting to eat their dinner because in a few hours they can go eat a bowl of cereal or ice cream.
So with what I have learned, the best way to control how much your children eat, what they eat, and when they eat it is to talk with them about the eating schedule and then you as the parents prepare healthy meals in reasonable portion sizes.
Another great tip to help control how much your child is eating is to use smaller plates and bowls. This helps parents to give their 7-year-old portions that are more suited for their size, and it also helps the 7-year-old to feel like they are getting enough food.
Nutrition balance is very important for children and by controlling what they can eat in their meals and how much they are receiving at every meal it can help children who are overeating create new healthier habits.
Why is it Bad for a 7-Year-Old to Eat All of the Time?
#1 It Can Indicate a Poor Diet
One concern with overeating in 7-year-olds is that it can indicate a poor diet. When children aren’t getting the nutrition that they need they can often feel a hunger that is unsatisfied.
This can then lead to overeating as children are trying to gain the nutrition that they need. A great way to overcome this obstacles is by using the governments My Plate campaign that teaches how to create nutrient-rich and balanced meals.
#2 They Aren’t Drinking Enough Water
Another reason that 7-year-old kids can overeat is the fact that they are not drinking enough water. Have you ever heard that saying that goes, “When you don’t know what you are craving you are craving water, so you need to drink more water”?
Well, this principle also applies to 7-year-old kids. Lots of times they will overeat because they think they are hungry when what they really are is thirsty.
So, it can be very helpful to provide water for your kids and if they come and ask for an extra snack have them drink a glass of water first and then ask them if they are still hungry.
#3 It Creates Bad Habits
When kids are eating just to eat it can be enforcing bad eating habits. Lots of times children will eat because they are bored and need something to do. Providing stimulating activities for your child to do can help decrease their desire to overeat.
Another bad habit that overeating can create in 7-year-old children is a lack of self-control. If a child doesn’t develop the control to limit when and what they are eating as a child it can negatively effect them later in life.
Sharing a meal plan and letting your 7-year-old be a part of meal scheduling can help teach them positive eating habits and control that can bless them in the future.
#4 It can Lead to Further Health Problems in the Future
Bad habits can be created by overeating while young and the bad habit of overeating can lead to other bad habits that can negatively affect your 7-year-old child.
If your child is over eating because they are bored it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food in their future. When children are young we need to teach them the proper relationship that we should have with food.
Overeating while young can lead to some serious health problems like diabetes, overweight problems, and obesity. These are all major health concerns and ones that we can help our child avoid.
#5 It Can Lead to Being Overweight or Obese
It is true that obesity and being over weight has become a major concern for the children in the United States of America. Helping our children to eat balanced meals at appointed times can help them as they grow in the future.
In their study Obesity in children and young people: a crisis in public health T. Lobstein, L. Baur, and R. Uauy talk about the struggles of the rising cases of over-weight and obese children.
It is important that we help our children stop over eating and more importantly that we help them eat healthy foods that are going to have a positive influence on them and their futures.
One of the best ways to help 7-year-old kids and all people receive balanced diets is by using the government resource My Plate. This website can help parents understand what foods their child needs to be eating on a daily bases and why.
My Plate uses the familiar image of a place setting to teach us how we should be balancing our meals between protein, vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy.
You can explore their websites and find lists of different fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy that are good to eat. You can also find great recipes and ideas on how to balance your families plates.
On their website, they have the recommended daily amounts of each of the five food groups for all age groups. This makes it easy to plan meals that are going to be balanced and help promote healthy development in yourself and your 7-year-old.
If you have any serious questions or concerns you should take your child to your family pediatrician and seek their medical advice.
How can I help my 7-year-old to eat slower? There are a few great ways to help a 7-year-old eat slower. Teaching them to take a sip of water in-between bites or teaching them to put down their spoon/fork in-between each bite are helpful. Also, promoting family conversations during mealtimes and asking your 7-year-old to participate is another great way to help your child eat slower.
How can I help my 7-year-old lose weight? There are six great ways to help kids lose weight. If you limit screen time and replace it with more sleep, ask them to exercise for at least an hour per day if not more, provide healthy meals and snacks, have them drink more water and limit sugary drinks, and use child-sized portions on smaller plates or in smaller bowls.
What is the average weight and height for a 7-year-old? For boys, the average weight and height for a 7-year-old is 46-50 inches tall and 46-57 pounds. For girls, the average height is 46-49 inches and the average weight is 45-56 pounds.