My daughter hardly eats anything at all. I don’t know how she can exist on so little food. How can I make her eat?

  • Posted by Dr. Jay Gordon

We tend to forget our children are young animals. Instinct will ensure they eat enough of the correct foods. This isn’t just my opinion. Classic studies have shown this to be true.

The most recent experiment was reported in 1992 in the New England Journal of Medicine. In this instance, researchers videotaped preschoolers who were given their choice of several different types of foods. The scientists allowed the children to eat whatever they wanted over a period of several weeks. Meticulous notes documented everything the children ate. The study showed that over a period of several weeks, each child ate a perfectly balanced diet. Instinctively, children eat enough vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and so forth. Now, they might do this by eating nothing but rice crackers for a week before switching to another food. Or they might avoid green vegetables for six weeks, but there was nothing to worry about. Sooner or later, they chose all the elements they needed to be healthy.

I encourage parents to allow their children to eat at their own pace. If your two-year-old “eats like a bird,” let her. Today she may peck like a sparrow but in a few days she may be eating everything in sight. She’s just fine. A sick child is pale and listless. If your child is active and happy, how much she eats is of no concern. Just let her eat whatever healthy food she wants whenever she wants it.