Eat/Sleep Cluster

Eating behaviour

In this section we present some ideas on what you can do to address eating behaviour difficulties at home, including keeping a food diary, what a healthy plate should contain, general mealtime habits, and age-specific strategies for children, teenagers and adults.

Keeping a food diary

When pursuing additional support, it is advised that you collect and record relevant information, and observe patterns of behaviour across multiple settings. This may involve keeping a food diary, filling in a food inventory, or recording behaviours at mealtimes. A food diary template and a food inventory are provided in the resource panel to assist you.

Healthy plate

Food Diary


Food Inventory


Mealtime habits

  • Make mealtimes predictable, calm, enjoyable and fun. 
  • Do not force sudden changes in mealtime structure or food items without the support of others around you. Changes should be gradual and small. 
  • Do not focus on having an empty plate as the end goal of a meal. This may result in overeating or unhealthy attitudes towards food amount.
  • Do not use food as a reward (e.g. to reward completion of a task) or punishment (e.g. restricting access to food when a task was not completed). 
  • Label foods appropriately to encourage balance and healthy relationships with food. Avoid framing foods as good or bad (e.g. apples are good and chocolate is bad).  
  • Encourage healthy eating as part of a balanced lifestyle alongside regular exercise and a consistent sleep routine. 
  • Have open conversations around food, mealtimes and appetite. Consider whether eating habits are being negatively influenced by peer pressure, behaviours at mealtimes or social media. 

Age specific strategies

We have put together ideas of strategies you can use according to age, children, teenagers and adults. Click on the age range applicable to you to find out more.