Raising Intuitive Eaters
Feb 04, 2022
We’re all born intuitive eaters! Babies know when they’re hungry, and they stop eating when they are full. We don’t “grow out” of being intuitive eaters, but many of us lose touch with our intuitive eating skills. Don’t despair! We can relearn intuitive eating at any point in our lives!
How can we as parents help our children stay in touch with their intuitive eating skills?
- Honor our children’s hunger and fullness
- Provide meals and snacks when our children are hungry (within reason; no need to drop everything to make a snack when dinner is almost on the table)
- Don’t force eating by saying “just one more bite”, “no dessert til you eat your vegetables”, “clean your plate”
- These phrases may override our children’s natural hunger and fullness
- Enjoy family meals
- So much research supports the benefits of family meals!
- Talking at the family table is good for everyone mentally
- Sitting down gives kids an opportunity to check in with their hunger
- Family meals are known to be more nutritious than meals on the go (but meals on the go are still very nutritious!)
- Regular family meals lets kids know that food will be available, which minimizes overeating due to fear of not knowing when they may eat again
- Watching parents enjoy a variety of nutritious foods models healthy behavior to children
- Alleviate the pressure
- Children see everything! If the parents are low-stress about meals and eating, your child is going to be more relaxed
- Pressure, bribery, glares, depriving all contribute to stress around eating
- This may lead to “picky” eating, eating beyond fullness, and disordered eating down the road
So do I just let my child eat whatever they want? Yes and no.
Our job as parents is to decide when and where to provide food. Our children decide which foods we offer to eat, and how much to eat.
Parents should provide regular meals and snacks, at a family table if possible. Offer a variety of nutritious and satisfying foods. The rest is up to your child! They may choose to eat all, none, some, or go back for seconds.
Trust your child to eat as much as their body needs, and trust that their body will grow in a way that is right for them!
XO, Team Temecula Dietitians