“Mom, I’m hungry. What’s for dinner? I want some chicken nuggets and fries. Oh, can we get a milkshake for dessert too?”
When you suggest a salad or some lean meat and vegetables instead, a chorus of whines and objections erupt from the backseat. Despite your insistence on a healthier choice, the complaints increase to an ear-deafening pitch. You feel like you’re about to explode, as this was the last thing you needed after your hectic day. Listening to a group of children being unhappy is not what you were looking forward to. You break.
“O.K., fine. We’ll get whatever you want, let’s just all settle down!”
If any of this sounds familiar, you may take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. This is a scenario experienced by probably millions of American parents every day. We just don’t have the time or energy to eat right. For both adults and children, the struggle is real. But, it’s especially important for children to be aware of what they are eating, as they are perhaps most affected by today’s fast-paced society.
This brings us to the final mindfulness tip in our series, healthy eating. As we’ve established, mindfulness is a type of meditational technique Mindfulness Tipthat allows children to increase awareness of self; their body, mind, and emotions. When children learn to become more conscious of when, why and what they eat, a giant step is taken towards reducing childhood obesity, which has risen to epidemic proportions.
First of all, it’s important to recognize the three main reasons we eat which are due to physical hunger, psychological hunger, and environment.” Teaching kids to apply mindfulness during eating will increase the likelihood they will become familiar with what feeling full actually feels like. They can become more aware of times when they are actually eating out of boredom, the need to be comforted or out of habit. Slowing down and being present during the meal also lets our brain catch up to our stomach and tell us when we’re full.”
Here’s an example of one such exercise involving the five senses. Children act as detectives or scientists in order to explore and investigate their food. Have them enjoy a healthy snack, such as apples or berries. Then, ask them to use their senses to describe what they are eating. How does it look, smell, taste, sound and feel when they eat this snack? Do this activity yourself and share your responses with your child.
Some other helpful activities you can practice daily with your children are to ask yourselves, before beginning each meal, how truly hungry are you? Also, allow your children to serve themselves during meals, so they can become more conscious of healthy portions. Make sure you allow enough time for the meal, that way no one feels rushed or compelled to gobble up their food. And finally, consider growing your own garden or becoming a member of a community garden. This will allow you and your children to become active participants in your own nutrition. Remember that saying you used to hear all the time from your Grandma, “You are what you eat.” Like most of those old adages, there’s a ton of practical wisdom behind them.