Hello beautiful people. 🙂 Can you believe it is already December?? We just got our tree up and are getting into the Christmas Spirit.
So, for all you parents out there, how are you handling this busy season? Are you pulling your hair out? Does this time of year cause you to be LESS mindful of what you are eating?
How about what you are feeding your children?
I focus a lot on the amazing moms and dads out there (mostly moms are the ones who reach out to me), but not as much on how WE can apply what we are learning and teach it to our CHILDREN!
Just a re cap on Mindful Eating: funny enough- I would call it the WHAT, WHEN, WHY AND HOW of eating!
1. You are aware of WHAT you are eating.
2. You are aware of HOW much you are eating.
3. You are aware of WHY you are eating.
4. You are aware of your hunger levels (the WHEN–are you hungry when you eat?)
You may think that number 1 is a no-brainer. “Of course, I know what I am eating.” But how many times do we mindlessly reach for that bag of candy, or that second helping without giving it much thought?
Number 2 and 4 go pretty much hand in hand. When you are aware of how hungry (or full) you are, you can easily base that on HOW much to eat. Our eyes can be bigger than our stomachs, right?
Number 3 is probably the most important reason…. if we are aware of WHY we are eating, we can be more in tune with our body and change course if need be. For example, if you just came home from work and all of a sudden you are craving potato chips, first ask yourself, if you are eating out of hunger or stress.
Helping Children Be Aware
Children can practice Mindful Eating as well!
Growing up, were you taught to “clean your plate”, even if you weren’t hungry?
Or did your parents pretty much let you eat whatever you wanted?
Were you given food as a reward, or even as a punishment? (if you misbehave, you are eating more broccoli! lol)
Guess what. I think we ALL grew up with one of these statements in one form or another. It’s natural for us parents to think that way. I know I, myself, have been guilty of doing these things with my children in the past.
However, the time is NOW to turn that around. If a child gets into the habit of having an unhealthy relationship with food when he/she is young, it may increase his/her chance of getting an eating disorder in the future. Eating disorders among children are on the rise.
” A study conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality showed that hospitalizations for eating disorders in children under 12 increased by 119% between 1999 and 2006. More recent numbers are unavailable, but experts say the problem isn’t getting any better.”
I, myself, suffered from anorexia and bulimia in college. Many others suffer from Binge Eating Disorder where there is no throwing up or restricting–but binging on large quantities of food.
Now, I am in NO WAY blaming parents. We all do the best that we can with good intentions.
But…we CAN start NOW toward helping our children form a healthy relationship with food (and with themselves!)
Here are 3 things I do with my children:
1. Do NOT give in every time they say they are hungry and want to eat. After school, they are allowed to eat one piece of fruit (always first to make sure they get it in) and then a salty snack (natural chips or crackers). They usually whine and complain and say “I’m huuungrry!!!” But I stick to my guns. I even tell them that it’s okay to feel a little bit hungry.
2. Don’t make them clean their plate. They do need to try a little pile of each thing on their plate. I make sure and give them a small amount- something that I know they can eat. When they were young I only made them eat one bite of their vegetable. (Thankfully, now they gobble most of them up!)
3. After dinner, if they want seconds, I tell them to “listen to their body.” When I think of it, I have them tell me how hungry they are on a scale of 0-5 (0 being stuffed and 5 being ravenous) . I think they are catching on. Do they sometimes say they are still hungry when maybe they really aren’t? Sure! I know I can’t get inside their stomachs and REALLY know if they are telling the truth. So this is where I also have to do my part and learn to trust them and just trust the process.
Oh, and what about rewards? The short answer is: we don’t bribe at all. However, if it is celebrating a school accomplishment, we DO make dessert or go out to eat. That’s not the same as saying “if you do something, you will get a piece of candy.”
As parents, we have such a big responsibility and there WILL be slip ups. Nobody is perfect- I know for sure I am NOT!! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Stay consistent and before long, your child may be begging to eat KALE, like my son! 🙂
With Peace and Love,
Kellie , Certified Health Coach
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