A toddler's relationship with food is still innocent, it has not been influenced by bad habits or by the marketing of the food industry. My daughter is a good example. If she knew this what she would teach us?
- Eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full. This sounds simple but most of the adults eats when they have time to eat and very often skip their meals. As result they prone to overeat when they reach the table. Or on the contrary: they eat when they are not hungry just because they want to comfort themselves or simple because there is the opportunity - for instance in a social event.
- Eat what you really want to eat. My toddler always knows what she wants to eat, fruit, cheese, bread, poultry, meat, pasta, baked beans, yoghurt or soups. And she knows this without looking into the fridge or at a restaurant menu or watching food ads. Adults choose their meals influenced by adverts, by their habitual choices or by actual offers at that moment, so they cannot hear what their bodies demand.
- Eat slowly, take your time. Okay adults probably do not spend their time between two bites playing with food, but they can have a chat, concentrate and enjoy the taste and visual look of their meals. It takes time to our brain to realise when we are full, so take your time and chew your food properly and keep a break before you help yourself a second. If you want to lose weight, this can save you a lot of calories.
- Do not eat too much before going to bed. My daughter can eat like a lion at the breakfast table, but she has just a few bites at dinner. Okay, she still has her milk at bedtime, adults usually have a glass of wine or some snack. The truth is, milk would be the better choice... Heavy meals, alcohol and fatty or sugary snacks cannot be digested easily, which means bad nights and heartburn - not to mention the extra kilos around our waist.
- Eat more times but less. I could not tell you how many times she eats a day. A half apple here, a small pot of yoghurt there. At least six-seven meals a day. But always just a small amount. Adults can eat more but less times. The recommended number of meals is five-six per day which does not mean more food/calorie. The secret is that all amount of food for the day is distributed evenly through the day, light snacks are between the main meals. This way our blood sugar levels do not drop down suddenly and we are able to take control and choose a lighter, healthier option at the main meals. Again a great benefit if you want to lose weight.
- Keep your meals simple and real. When I ask my daughter what she would like to eat she never tells me complicated meals. She just wants peas or cheese or bread. If we do not have overcomplicated dishes we can judge easier the calorie content and the serving sizes. An additional benefit is that our taste buds are not tricked by artificial additives - which never satisfy us just make us crave for more. So we really can just enjoy the taste of real, good quality food.