The Magic of Intuitive Eating for Kids:
With the holidays approaching, it often brings around food... and a lot of it! As parents, how can we help our children navigate through all of this food to help them nurture a healthy relationship with food?
By Utilizing Intuitive Eating (IE)!
This approach isn't just reserved for adults. Children can also reap the benefits of this intuitive approach. As a matter of fact, children can know when they're hungry, and they know when to stop eating. What is our role then? To help them strengthen this fantastic skill.
Through IE, kids can get better at listening to their bodies, recognizing their authentic hunger signals, and developing a natural rhythm for mealtime. It is important for us to listen to when our children communicate their needs as well. Here are some examples where IE can be applied.
Your child is sharing that they are full. Instead of making them "finish their plate", it is okay for them to leave the table and be finished eating.
Your child hasn't eaten in several hours and shares that they are not hungry around dinner time. As parents, we have the ability to provide food; however, our children should have and be allowed to have an awareness of how much they would like to eat.
This approach not only encourages mindful eating but also lays the groundwork for a lifetime of joyful and balanced eating habits. Here are some tips to help with incorporating IE in your household.
6 Tips for Fostering IE in Kids:
Promote Mindful Eating: Teach children to savor their meals mindfully. Encourage them to gather at the table free from distractions like TV or devices, allowing them to focus on the flavors and textures of their food. This practice enhances their appreciation of food and helps them connect with their physical sensations of hunger and fullness.
Understanding Hunger and Fullness: Help kids grasp what hunger and fullness feel like. Is their stomach rumbling at them? What does an empty stomach feel like to them? Discuss the significance of eating when hungry and recognizing when they've had enough. Encourage them to use descriptive words for these sensations, making them more aware of their body's cues.
Respect Food Choices: Steer clear of labeling foods as "good" or "bad." Empower kids to make choices from a variety of foods, fostering an understanding that all foods can have a place in a balanced diet. This allows children to develop a healthy relationship with food, free from guilt or judgment.
Trust Their Appetites: Give kids the space to self-regulate their food intake. Trust that they inherently know when they're hungry and when they're satisfied. Avoid pressuring them to eat more or less than they feel like, as this can disrupt their natural ability to gauge their needs.
Teach Emotional Eating Awareness: Encourage children to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional eating. Explore alternative ways for them to cope with their emotions that don't involve food. By helping them recognize their emotional triggers, you empower them to make mindful choices.
Be a Role Model: Children learn best by observing. Set an example of intuitive eating by showcasing a balanced relationship between food and your own body. Be mindful of your self-talk and avoid body-shaming comments. Your children will absorb these behaviors and attitudes, forming a positive foundation for their own relationship with food.
Thank you for joining us on this journey to nurture healthy eaters. We look forward to sharing more insights in our future newsletters. We wish you and your family a joyful and mindful eating experience!