Any parent knows that a kid’s diet can be complicated. Are they eating enough? Why did they skip lunch? Are they getting the right kinds of food? Parents struggle with these questions daily. But it’s a different matter when your child is always hungry, all the time.
It can frustrating to deal with a child’s eating habits. Sometimes they’re too picky. Sometimes they don’t want to eat at all. Some kids are just… black holes. For food. Next thing you know, you’re wondering where all the food in the fridge went.
Now, some parents may see this as a good thing. But be wary that an insatiable hunger could be a sign that something is wrong.
If you’re wondering why your child is always hungry, here are five possible reasons why.
5 reasons why your child is always hungry
1. Food association/habit
You don’t have to be hungry to want to eat. At an early age, kids learn the cues that signal they are about to eat. They may associate eating with things like sitting in front of the TV, getting in the car, or hearing the fridge open or close.
Sometimes a child is always hungry because they know they can get what they want from their parents.
Solution: Take care not to feed kids on demand. Keep a strict schedule for meal times and even snacks. Eat at the table, not in front of the TV or in the car. This helps regulate their food intake and decrease the demand for food.
2. They feel deprived
Eating in the absence of hunger tends to occur in children of greater weight. These kids may feel restricted in their eating and then overcompensate. Or they may be prohibited from eating foods like candy, bubble gum, and junk food. This pushes them to obsess over the food they feel they’re deprived of.
Solution: Apart from having a regular eating schedule at the dining table, allow your kids to decide when they can stop eating. When kids feel deprived, they may overeat at first, but they’ll settle down once they’re sated.
Prepare balanced meals and a healthy dose of sweets. Choose healthy alternatives to candy and junk food, like fruit. You can also watch your tendency to restrict food if you have one.
3. A lack of filling foods
Healthy living parents often wonder why their children are always hungry. What they may not notice is that the diet they are enforcing in the household doesn’t have enough fat. Fat is also an important part of our children’s diet.
Eating too much processed food can also cause a shortfall in nutrients. They’re all taste but not filling enough, so the kids tend to eat more and more.
Solution: Make sure you prepare meals that have everything from the food pyramid in there. The diet must contain carbohydrates, protein, and fat to satisfy your child’s appetite.
During meals, make sure to provide three to five servings of the main food groups. You can go for food like tacos or tortillas, as they have practically everything: lean meat, beans, vegetables, and guacamole. Give them carbohydrates!
4. The table is devoid of food they enjoy
If nothing appeals to your kids, they won’t eat. And they will overcompensate the next time they eat something more to their liking (such as extra snacks).
Solution: Take a democratic approach to family meals. Plan the meals with the whole family and take their feedback. Then make the necessary adjustments. What do they like to eat and what don’t they like to eat? Serve meals in bowls that they can pass around, and add more options.
5. They are going through a growth spurt
This is usually the most common reason. Your kids are active and they’re growing. They need more food so that they have enough energy to get through the day. And when they’re going through a growth spurt, they need more food than usual. Sometimes they may ask for more servings during meals. Sometimes they wake up hangry (hungry-angry).
Solution: One of the best solutions is to have a regulated schedule for eating while taking their feedback into account when planning meals. Provide filling food high in carbohydrates, protein, and just a tiny bit of sugar. Mix the familiar food with the unfamiliar food (and make sure you get their feedback afterwards).
Child always hungry?
So there you have it. If your child is still almost always hungry, you can consult with a dietitian or a nutritionist to help you plan out your meals. They can also help you expand and explore your options with the type of meals available to you.