Circular 1037-15
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By Kathryn Tarulli, Dr. Diane Bales and Dr. Charlotte Wallinga — Department of Human Development and Family Science

Stop Eating When Your Full: Promote healthy eating habits by encouraging your family to stop eating when they are full.

Many adults were taught as children to eat everything on their plates because it was important to waste nothing. If you were taught this as a child, it may surprise you that experts now recommend letting your child decide how much to eat.

When children are forced to eat everything on their plate, it often pushes them past the point of feeling full. This leads to a habit of ignoring the body's cues of how much food is enough. If children and adults overeat on a regular basis, there is a high risk of becoming overweight. Being overweight is associated with other health issues, including high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing and sleeping problems, and depression.

This does not mean that your child should decide the family menus. Provide healthy options in appropriate portions, and let your child decide when he or she is full.

*The Nemours Foundation. (2012). Kids-health: Keeping Portions Under Control. Retrieved from http://healthiness/parent/proportional

Family Fun Activity: Short Story

Use this easy activity to help your child learn.

What You Need:

  • Crayons or markers
  • Pen or pencil
  • Paper

What To Do:

  • Read the following short story with your child. Finish the story together, discussing the importance of eating healthy and stopping once you're full
  • "Johnny was so excited to go to his best friend's birthday party. All of his friends would be there. They first ate pizza for lunch, then played a few games. Everyone was having a great time! As they played the children ate snacks - popcorn, pretzels, and candy. After the games were over, it was time to open presents and eat birthday cake. All of the children sang "Happy Birthday," and Johnny's friend blew out the candles. Johnny was already feeling very full, but he loved cake. He ate a piece of cake with a giant scoop of ice cream on top. On the way home from the party, Johnny told his parents that he wasn't feeling well. His stomach hurt, and he felt very sick. Johnny's parents were concerned, and asked him why his stomach hurt..."
  • After finishing the story, invite your child to draw pictures illustrating what happened in the story

This is publication 15 out of 24 in the Eat Healthy, Be Active: Keeping Children Healthy at Home and School series. For more information visit

Status and Revision History
Published on May 13, 2014
Published with Full Review on Mar 28, 2017

Diane W Bales Assoc Professor & Human Dev Spec, Family & Consumer Sciences
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