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Eat like a kid again

Eating a rainbow
Eating a rainbow
Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

What if we could all eat the way young children do? This isn’t about abysmal table manners or peculiar preferences – this is about several kids’ habits that could help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and add to the joy of each meal.

1. Have you ever noticed the way a child takes in the sights and smells of his food when it’s set in front of him? It’s not always beautiful or sophisticated, but kids have a natural way of savoring the first moment. They recognize the old saying that we eat first with our eyes, and they practice it daily.

2. They eat when they’re hungry, and they don’t when they’re not. It’s so simple, but so tough for adults to do. If kids aren’t hungry, there’s no amount of their favorite mac-and-cheese or any other food that will coerce them to stuff it in. When they ARE hungry, they’ll eat just about anything in front of them (so try to make it something healthy!). Preschoolers and younger kids may seem like they’re out of touch with their own minds or bodies sometimes, but they’ve got the adults fooled. They KNOW when they need food and when they don’t -- a little mindfulness in that direction could help adults immensely.

3. They enjoy a good laugh or two during a meal. In fact, often it’s tough to keep them focused on the food instead of the friends. They seem to understand innately that mealtimes are as much about the table mates as the food.

4. Kids love colorful food and fresh food. Given the chance, children will often choose fresh fruits and vegetables over cooked and mushy ones. Also, being so prone to “eating with their eyes,” color is attractive. Many of the healthiest foods are very colorful, and experts agree that the most nutritious meals include a variety of hues and textures. (Of course, it’s important to avoid artificial colors, using naturally bright foods instead.)

5. When dinner’s over, it’s all about movement. Anyone who’s been around young children knows that they are in perpetual motion. The moment a meal is done, it’s back to wiggling for them! Taking a post-meal walk is a great way for adults to incorporate this healthy habit, and the kids can come along too.

Next time you sit down to eat, consider eating like a kid again, and see what changes it can make for you.

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