To eat mindfully is more than just feeling “peaceful” towards food. It means actively becoming aware of food choices, how our body feels, and overall, enjoying the experience that food brings. If we help our kids eat more mindfully, it can alleviate potential issues with food such as overeating. When our bodies are overfed, it can lead to a host of issues such as high blood pressure/cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes. Making mindful eating a practice this holiday season will aid in prioritizing your kids’ health front and center.
Number 1: Eat as a Family
The family that eats together is a family that bonds together. Social interactions at the table will always trump eating in front of screens or on-the-go in the car. When together, it gives your child a greater opportunity to experience a variety of food, ultimately increasing the chance to indulge in highly nutritious foods. Creating a routine with the family can take time, but it is time well spent.
Number 2: Make Mealtime a Discussion
Talking to your kids about their food will increase the attention paid to the meal. You can question them on how their bellies feel or what the food tastes like. Another option is to ask them to count their chews and rate how hungry they feel throughout the process. Generally, 10 to 30 chews are enough depending on the type of food. More importantly, once children are getting to a fullness rating of about 5, it’s about time for them to stop to avoid overeating. Ultimately, it’s best to let your kid decide how they feel because it teaches them to listen to the cues of their own body and adjust accordingly. Encouraging slow eating can also enhance the enjoyment of food. Besides, who doesn’t want to take the time to enjoy a great meal?
Number 3: Buy the Right Foods
If it’s not in your cupboard, you are less likely to eat it. That’s the truth. This can mean not spending money on junk food while at the store. Of course, there’s no need to cut your child’s favorite treats completely. Just be sure to eat those foods in moderation, accompanied by other foods that are healthier and nutrient dense.
Number 4: Take the Love Out of Food
You heard right, but it’s not exactly what you think. The issue lies in rewarding our kids with food as a form of love and not as a means for better health. If we give food to our kids in an emotion-driven manner, kids can pick up on that. The outcome? Associations with food and emotion. Oftentimes, that results in turning to food when stressed. Try to reward kids with praise and hugs, instead. Positive social interactions will benefit your kids more in the long run.
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