Children form associations with food very early in life. You can help your kids develop positive eating preferences by teaching them to experience and relate to food in mindful ways.
What is “Mindful Eating”?
In a nutshell, to eat mindfully is to build a positive relationship with food that allows for better control of eating habits. According to The Center of Mindful Eating, this is achieved by approaching food with appreciation, awareness, and enjoyment. For faithful followers, meals become sensory experiences where smells, tastes, and textures are savored.
A recent New York Times article reveals that a growing number of psychologists, pediatricians, and nutritionists claim that paying attention to how and why you eat can combat unsavory habits and conditions like binging, emotional eating, obesity, food addictions, to name a few.
How can you raise a mindful eater?
1. Pencil in regular family meals.
Children are commonly fed before parents to accommodate busy schedules and daily routines. However, sharing meals as a family shapes your child’s development and attitudes toward food. Sitting down for at least one family meal a week (preferably more) is a natural way to bring the topic of nutrition to the table.
2. Turn cooking into child’s play.
Inviting your kids into the kitchen is a great way to engage their senses and expand their knowledge of food. Let them knead the dough, taste the sauce, smell the cilantro. As meals are prepared, talk to them about where the food comes from and why it’s good to eat.
3. Make trying new foods the norm.
Exposing children to different foods from the get-go can open them up to a well-balanced and diverse diet. Introducing new dishes on a regular basis will pique their young taste buds and help minimize food fixations. (For more tips, read our post on arming your child with a lifetime of healthy eating habits.)
4. Broaden your baby’s palate BEFORE birth.
Studies show that babies develop preferences for foods they encounter in utero. Eat an eclectic array of cuisines and spices (i.e. garlic, vanilla, carrot, mint, etc.) during pregnancy and give your baby’s palate a sophisticated head start. Learn more about these fascinating findings in our post A World of Flavor within the Womb.
It’s never too late to start eating mindfully.
Getting on a mindful eating path goes beyond putting fruits and veggies on the table. Contact us today at 415.826.1701 to learn more about how you can help your child develop a healthy fondness for food.