DD1 turns 6 next week. She's on the small side of average for height and weight (DH and I are both small, me especially so) and is generally healthy and energetic. We eat a relatively healthy mostly whole food based diet, but it's far from perfect. We don't eat red meat. She's only given water to drink or sometimes herbal tea (juice maybe once a month at a party, cow's milk never), as has been the case her whole life. I fix both of the kids a full cup of water in the mornings that comes with us anywhere we go and refill as needed all day. She gets a couple of snacks a day - apple and peanut butter, smoothie popsiciles (almond milk, yogurt, and various fruits and greens), crackers and cheese, yogurt and fruit, carrots and hummus, sliced baked tofu, nori, turkey rolls, hard boiled egg, etc. I'd say she's getting a snack or meal about every 2 hours.
We eat meals (and often snacks) as a family. DH is with us for dinner and all weekend meals, but not weekday breakfast/lunch/snacks. We aren't watching TV (we're essentially TV free), we sit in regular spots at our kitchen table, and generally visit as a family while we eat. Lately we've been having food issues with her. When we sit down for a meal, she'll very very quickly eat what she's been served (sometimes she'll make faces about a particular food and refuse to eat it). She'll proclaim "I was the first one to finish." We've never encouraged this, and she is NOT anxious to leave the table at all. Then she starts asking for more, and then more, and so on. There is never a lack of food. She's never gone hungry. We added in white meats when she was 4 (before that we did only seafood for meat), but there haven't been any major dietary changes since then. She hasn't been great about drinking water in the last year, and has had issues with constipation (an issue DH has always struggled with and I never have). I find it hard to believe she's still hungry after eating as much as DH or me. Periodically she'll say her stomach hurts after dinner and say she thinks it's because she ate too much. This is generally after we've declined her last request for more food. She'll also sometimes announce that she's hungry within 30-60 minutes of finishing a meal or snack, which often feels like a request for attention (or perhaps sweets) more than food.
But, I hate refusing her food. It feels so arbitrary, and I want to trust her to follow her body's cues, not enforce some external limit. She's generally asking for more healthy foods, not ice cream (which she does get maybe once a week). She does tend to prefer grains and dairy, but she also happily eats salad, fruit, steamed veggies, etc and asks for more. What if this is a growth spurt? I feel like she's doing a "fill my bucket" sort of I need your attention thing, eating as quickly as she can and asking us for more and more and more. If I/we decline to fix her seconds (or thirds or whatever), she remains at the table and gets increasingly obnoxious. Not asking for food, just being an antsy kid. I sometimes send her away from the table, but then she plays sort of wildly and right by us and distracts DD2 who is still eating. I do sometimes send her away - up to her room to put on pjs or into the study to work on something, but she really doesn't want to be alone, and I want her to participate in our family meal times. I've been encouraging her to eat more slowly, and drink more water, but I'm really at a loss here.