Over the past number of years, I have had the pleasure of being able to witness how kids eat! In my home, with nieces and nephews, and even with friends. It is really interesting to pay attention to what they eat, how much they enjoy it, and what they leave behind. A while ago, I also read somewhere, something interesting that gave me a big “aha” moment when it comes to the way they eat.
Kids eat by paying attention to their body!
It seems simple enough, and initially, I didn’t give it much thought. As a parent, it’s easy to wonder if you are feeding your kids too much or too little, or what kind of nutrients they are getting. But really, kids often sort it out for themselves…most of the time. Unless you are one of the lucky few whose kids eat only plain things, or are very picky! In my experience, I find most kids enjoy exploring flavour and texture and really enjoy raw natural flavours in the basic fruits and veggies.
If you give them lots of variety in a meal, (like what we call “mish mash”; it consists of a variety of veg, fruit, meat, cheese, and some sort of crackers or chips) you should try to pay attention to what they fill their plate with and what they leave behind. I love a good mish mash type meal, especially for summer lunches, because it lets the kids pick and choose what parts of it they want to eat (assuming they pick at least a couple things from each category – which is our main rule when it comes to mish mash)!
I find it most interesting to see what foods the kids leave behind once they have decided they are full. Kids rarely overeat! They may in fact, stop eating long before they are full, particularly if they may get more fun, play, or screen time when they are “done” eating! But even a meal they love and they are not trying to eagerly leave the table, there may literally be one more bite left on their plate, but they are too full to eat it!
So they don’t!!
I think that is so fascinating! It doesn’t even matter what kind of food it may be…it could be fruit, meat, veggies, or even cake, brownies, chips, or candy – they simply will not keep eating once they have decided they’ve had enough.
If I have even 10 more bites on my plate but start to feel full, I will probably keep eating it all, even if it means I am uncomfortable afterwards; all to not waste the food!
If you give a kid ice cream let’s say, they will open their eyes wide and get very excited! They may eat half of it, then hand it to me and say they are full! I am usually stunned, because, like I said, I would probably eat it despite my fullness!
It’s the extra food clutter that can add to issues of excess! It did for me anyway. If I really think about my weight, and my relationship with food it’s very much like dealing with household clutter. If I fill my plate; it’s cluttered. Then after I eat all that clutter, my body (like a house) becomes too full. Eventually my body (or house) needs to change shape and size to store all the ‘stuff’.
If we could enjoy food as much as kids do, and stop when we are full as opposed to overeating, we may find that we actually enjoy food so much more (like a house that is perfectly organized with targeted cherished possessions) – who knows it may even help us shed a few extra pounds if need be too!
Kids don’t generally deprive themselves! They will dive into a huge piece of cake with gusto, but once they’re done, they are DONE! There is often no convincing them to eat more after that point – or you may start a war over what they get if they just finish! I think eating all the ‘food clutter’ is more of a learned behaviour; to really eat even more than you can, or eat until you’re stuffed – which can also be hard on the digestive system!
Maybe it’s time to declutter our plates and our mentality about how much we eat and simply eat until we have had enough.