Kids seem to have nutrition figured out . . . that is until they start learning our bad habits. If adults ate like children love to eat we might see different trends in health and wellness in adults. Our 3 year old, Taz knows 6 things that most adults never figure out.
1. Children know when to stop eating!
When they are full they stop and when hungry they eat. It doesn’t matter if there are 20 pieces of food left on the plate or two. Children don’t listen to social cues or an inside voice telling them to “clear their plate”. Children listen to their bodies and are great at self regulating the number of calories they get. This is a fact parents! Research has been done showing that two year olds given low calorie jello as a snack will naturally eat more food later in the day than children given regular jello as a snack. Your body knows when you have the calories you need and tries to give lots of cues to stop eating, but adults don’t listen. We are too busy talking, watching TV, driving, clearing our plate, etc.
2. It is ok to eat just one type of food at a meal.
Children may eat 5 rolls for dinner and not one other bite of food. This is common for children and not a problem unless they are going days without any variety. Keep the day or even week in perspective. At the next meal they may eat only the watermelon. Kids get hooked on a food sometimes and want only that food item. As long as the food is a generally healthy food from one of the food groups (in other words not just fat and sugar) then don’t worry about it. This is a natural occurrence and is not a problem. Continue to offer variety at each meal, but it’s perfectly ok.
3. Children are not emotional eaters.
They eat for nourishment not to deal with depression or anxiety. Food is about meeting a basic need. Children know when they are hungry that they need to eat and that is what they do. They would never get up in the middle of the night to cry their eyes out over a gallon of ice cream.
4. Water quenches thirst.
Kids seem to know exactly what their bodies need and they meet those needs well. When it comes to hydration children will drink water in response to thirst. Too often as adults we meet that need with soda or other sugary beverages. And often we teach that habit to our children.
5. Its ok to not like every vegetable.
When kids don’t like a specific vegetable they don’t eat, but they are happy to enjoy the ones they like. Kids don’t worry about not liking specific vegetables. It is okay to have preferences and it is also ok to leave some alone while enjoying the ones you like.
6. Fresh fruits and vegetables are not a four letter words.
Kids eat what they like regardless of what a food is called. After a while we are told to eat our fruits and vegetables so many times it picks up a bad connotation. We aren’t allowed up from the table until we finish our peas. We can’t have dessert unless we eat our green beans. Young children haven’t had the chance to categorize all foods and deem certain ones “good” or “bad”.