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Tricks and Tips for Growth: Mindful Eating for Kids

Apr 4, 2024

Mother Father Daughter eating dinner

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Incorporating mindful eating practices into family routines is not just about fostering a healthy relationship with food; it’s also a gateway to overall well-being. By embracing mindful eating habits, families can navigate mealtime with intentionality and awareness, ultimately promoting healthier choices and behaviors. However, if you have questions or concerns about your child’s eating habits or feeding dynamics, our feeding therapy team is here to support you. Whether it’s addressing picky eating, promoting balanced nutrition, or navigating feeding challenges, our experts are dedicated to helping your child thrive. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can assist you on your journey towards mindful eating and optimal health.

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date information for parents and caregivers.