But as I look at the way my kids eat, I wonder if I’m doing it all wrong. My kids eat everything from vegetables to Cheetos. And yet, they aren’t fat. Sure, they’ve got the metabolisms of hummingbirds. But still, I wonder if kids eating habits are something we parents should aspire to rather than the reverse.
So I’ve been watching the way my kids eat and I’ve learned a lot:
1. Food is not a substitute lovey. Adults eat food for a whole host of reasons that have nothing to do with hunger or nutrition. To an adult, food is comfort and love. To kids, food is just the thing on the table they eat to fill up their tummies. Unless it’s an ice cream cone.
2. Discovering that you like a new food can be a euphoric experience. When my kids discover they like something new like sushi or salted caramel ice cream, they’re joyous and excited. We adults often forget to try new things — and we certainly forget to appreciate it.
3. Stop eating when you’re full (or distracted). My kids will be enjoying the most fabulous meal and all of a sudden just stop eating and say, “I’m done.” That’s because they got full, which is when you should stop eating. But gosh, food is so good. I always want to keep on chowing down.
4. Fruit can be just as good as candy. My kids love candy, but they’re just as quick to grab an apple or a plum if fruit is nearby. So maybe I should follow their example and keep fruit on hand at all times.
5. Not every meal has to be a big meal. For my kids, a meal isn’t the defining event of their day like it is mine. They don’t eat three big meals a day. Maybe I shouldn’t either.
6. Sugar makes people a little crazy. On the occasions when I make the mistake of giving my kids sugar before bed, they don’t go to bed as easily and often don’t sleep as well at night. I’ll try to remember that the next time a tub of ice cream beckons me before bed and I’ll take a pass.
7. Only eat what you love. When my kids love a food, they’ll ask to eat it multiple days in a row. And if there’s something they don’t like, there’s nothing I can do to make them eat it. If I don’t force my kids to eat stuff they don’t like, I’m not going to force myself to eat stuff I don’t like. So goodbye quinoa!
Now that my kids are my eating teachers, I’m going to try to eat only what I’m hungry for and I’m going to enjoy what I’m eating. What have you learned from the way your kids eat? I’m hungry to know.