How do I teach my adolescent portion control? My 12 year old will bake a tray of brownies for the family and eat 90% of it on her own or sit down with a box of Oreos and milk for snack and polish off an entire row. I’m concerned that this isn’t healthy, but don’t know how to neutrally proceed.

Bracha’s Bite:

Portion control isn’t something I recommend teaching adolescents as it distances them from eating according to their body’s needs. Instead it puts outside rules on amounts to eat, which may be too much or too little at a given time.

Some other things to consider in this scenario:

#1: She’s eating from hunger

Often when adolescents eat a large amount of food, it’s because they’re hungry! Help her add some variety to her snack by providing some sliced fruit and cheese or peanut butter yogurt dip. Check out this post on how to make snacks fun and filling.

#2: Limited access to these foods leads to eating in excess

If your adolescent has only limited access to specific foods, when they have access, they’ll often eat excessive amounts. Read this post to help your adolescent feel in control of his eating.

#3: She’s eating from boredom

Parents often see this sort of eating as being out of boredom. And eating for reasons other than physical hunger is normal and even healthy!  However, we don’t want food to be the ONLY coping tool adolescents have for dealing with boredom or other feelings. So find a time to discuss this with your adolescent and discuss other ways she can deal with her boredom that doesn’t always include food. 

It can be scary seeing your adolescent eating excessive amounts at a time. Recognizing what may be behind their behavior can help you approach the situation more level headed and keep from shaming your adolescent for their actions.

And that’s the only control needed!