How do I prevent emotional or boredom eating?
Your child may request additional food purely because of physical hunger. Sugary or high carbohydrate foods, such as chips, cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and those levels drop rapidly, causing your child to feel hungry again much sooner.
To help in this situation, consider the following tips:
- Avoid certain food types: Try not to buy food that is high in sugar or carbohydrates.
- Provide healthy snack options: Having a selection of healthy snacks on hand will help – hummus and carrot sticks, butter-free popcorn or fruit.
- Set meal/snack times: Try to set meal/snack times at the same time as if your child was going to day care or school.
- Plan: Consider planning meals in advance and involve them in the planning process. This will make your child feel more committed to the roster as well as giving them a sense of self-efficacy or control.
Children, like adults, often eat for reasons other than being hungry. It can help to try and identify why your child is asking for food – that is, what were they doing just before they asked for food? Some tips on how to manage emotional eating include:
- Plan regular scheduled breaks: As well as planning regular breaks, plan what your child will do during those breaks.
- Help break tasks down: If your child is finding it hard to get started on new tasks, it can help to break the task down into more manageable chunks.
- Listen: If your child’s eating is prompted by negative emotions, it could help to listen and talk through those emotions.
In the video below, Dr Heather Francis from the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University talks to parents and carers about how to prevent children from over-eating during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the video or download the tip sheet.
Content owner: Centre for Emotional Health Last updated: 14 May 2020 2:08pm