Teach Healthy Eating at Home

Portion Pointers

It's cool to know that there are ways to get your child to eat more of something. But what if you want her to have less? While my daughter no longer gives me a hard time about eating almost any kind of veggie, she usually asks for refills of orange juice and seconds of strawberry sorbet. One serving of each of these daily is absolutely fine; another, however, is too many calories for a young child. So I ask him how to get kids to be satisfied with the initial portion.

He takes me into the kitchen, swings open the cabinet, and pulls out two eight-ounce bowls decorated with butterflies and flowers. "We put the girls' snacks in these," he says. "We fill them to the top, and the kids think they're getting a lot. If the bowls were bigger, they'd want more." A lot more, in fact. In one study, Dr. Wansink let preschoolers decide how much sweetened cereal to pour. They asked for 45 percent more when the bowl was 18 ounces as opposed to 12. "You might think that the kids wouldn't finish all that they poured in the bigger bowl," he says. "But that wasn't the case at all."

For juice, Dr. Wansink has another trick -- tall, thin glasses. He says they give kids the illusion that they're drinking more than they really are. He asks if my daughter is old enough to pour her own OJ (yes -- she's 6). Then he speculates that she'll fill a tall, thin glass with a lot less juice than a short, fat one, even if they both hold the same number of ounces. He says that in one experiment at a summer camp, kids filled the taller glasses with about 5 1/2 ounces of juice and the wider ones with almost ten. That's about a 60-calorie difference. I'm getting some thin glasses tomorrow. But I'll keep my wider glasses for milk and water, things most kids don't drink enough of.

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