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healthykids


Out of the Mouths of Babes A Dozen Ways Children Teach Us to Eat Mindfully


by Dr. Michelle May


Children are born with the ability to eat instinctively, fully tuned in to internal cues of hunger and fullness.


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arents are usually the main facilitators of life lessons for their children, but in some arenas it’s best to let the kids do the teaching. Their natural eating behaviors, for example, exemplify smart choices for us all. Here are some surprising rules of thumb:


Eat when you are hungry. From birth, babies know when and how much they need to eat and cry to let us know. As youngsters grow this vital instinct can be unlearned, so that by the time they are adults, most have learned to eat for other reasons besides hunger. By recognizing the difference between needing to eat and wanting to eat, adults can also relearn when and how much to eat.


Stop eating when you are full. Infants turn their head away when they have had enough to eat and toddlers throw food on the floor when they’re done. But as adults, we clean our plates because we were admon- ished as youngsters about starving children, feel a social obligation or something just tastes good.


Being hungry makes you


grouchy. Being hungry, tired or frustrated makes a child crabby and affects adults in the same way. Take care of your mealtime needs instead of taking out your crankiness on those around you.


Snacks are good. Kids naturally prefer to eat smaller meals with snacks in-between


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whenever they get hungry. That pattern of eating keeps their metabolism stoked all day; adults’ too.


All foods fit.


Children are born with a natural prefer- ence for sweet foods and quickly learn to enjoy fatty foods. Such fun comfort foods can be part of a healthy diet. In fact, studies show that overly restrictive food rules can cause children to feel guilty or ashamed and lead to rebellious eating. Ev- eryone eats healthier when they learn to en- joy less nutri- tious foods in moderation without de- privation.


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