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Mindful Eating From The Perspective Of A 7-Year-Old

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During this holiday season my family and I baked a bit more than season’s past. As a result, we all had the opportunity to enjoy a few more treats. My son was happily surprised by the variety of cookie and candy options, which also led to some very intuitive questions on his part.

One afternoon he asked for a cookie, which I agreed to, and he was having difficulty deciding between a classic sugar cookie or an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. He decided that he needed both, but asked me how he could tell if that was too much. I asked him if he was hungry (he had eaten a decent lunch two hours earlier), to which he answered a little hungry. He then independently decided that one cookie would be enough, stating that he can always have the other one later on (which he did enjoy later that night).

Fast forward to opening gifts and he receives a whole pound of chocolate from his soon to be auntie (can’t wait for my brother’s wedding!). My son asks me, “how do I know how much I can eat at one time?” Before I can answer, he looks at the label on the back and reads that a serving is three squares. He exclaims “I will start with three squares and see if my belly is full!” This is usually what I tell his two-year-old sister with any food, to ask her belly if she is getting full, and to save the rest for later. I am so proud that he has internalized this information and that he can apply it to himself without my prompting.

My son ended up taking three squares of the chocolate, feeling satisfied after two of them, and tossing the third piece. He is doing a great job of exhibiting mindful eating habits and respecting his body’s cues for satiety. He can enjoy a sweet because he likes it and stop eating when he is full without a second thought.

The last example came in the car while we were out driving to look at holiday lights. He wants to know what the definition of healthy is. I try to explain that feeling healthy is different for each person, and ask what makes him feel happy and energetic. He responds that he is happy in this moment, looking at the lights with his family, and he is energetic after lunch and dinner because he has just eaten (not sure why he is not energetic after breakfast, because I do feed him breakfast J). So, he summarizes, “being healthy means having fun with your family and eating lunch and dinner.” As a parent and a dietitian, I take great comfort and pride in my 7-year-old son’s world of mindful eating, and I hope to support those struggling with mindful eating habits create their own happy and energetic life!

Content submitted by Jessica Roy MS RD LDN