Sometimes a child can eat all of the right foods but still gain weight. This is when parents should examine portion control. From a young age, kids can become conditioned to eat all of the food in front of them, whether they’re hungry or not. Serving appropriate portions to children helps them eat only what they need. Here is a general guideline about how much kids should be eating:
- Toddlers should eat approximately one quarter of an adult-sized portion.
- Children age 4 to 8 should eat one-third of an adult-sized portion.
Even when portion sizes are in check, the ratio of food groups offered can lead to weight gain. According to the “plate method,” one-half of a child’s plate should be vegetables, one-quarter should be starchy sides (including corn, potatoes and peas), and one-quarter should be lean protein. Fruit and low-fat dairy servings may be added. If a child asks for seconds, offer more vegetables.
~ Jennifer Crouse, RD, CD, CDE, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin