Teaching your child how to eat
We all have read and heard enough about how one should eat, why eating slowly is the way to eat, benefits of eating slowly and similar. But, how many of us implement the same in our eating habits? How many parents implement these principles while feeding their babies?
Often times it is very difficult to discern when it is that you are actually full. Because it takes time, not only for your brain to realize you are full but also for your stomach to become full.
Our stomachs initially are a lot smaller than we think, probably the size of your two hands placed on top of each other. It's just that our bodies are very resilient and will try to keep you alive no matter how much abuse you do to it. Whether it's drugs, physical damage, mental or emotional, or with food. You will somehow keep trucking.
You eat food, and you don't save any room, you eat and eat until you are full and satisfied. This is when the problem begins because, your stomach still needs to make room for water to hydrate you, and also room for the expansion of gases so you can digest the food. Basically meaning now that you have eliminated the room for digestion and water, your stomach has no choice but to expand. But this is also when sometimes you will have people vomit or run to the bathroom.
Conscious eating means eating with intention: intention to nourish your body, intention to honor your body, intention to respect your body, intention to love your body, intention to love your life. Don’t you want to live your best life possible? This starts with your body functioning at its best with the most energy possible
So slow down. Eat in a calm state. Chew your food. Savor each bite. Put your fork down in between your bites. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s full. When you slow down, you not only work together with your digestion, rather than against it, but you also absorb more of the nutrients from your food (meaning fewer cravings later). Stop eating in the car, on the phone, and on the go.
Aim for conscious eating every time you eat. Remember how wonderful and satisfying eating can be when you are fully conscious and fully aligned emotionally, physically and intellectually.
We need to be involved while having our meal, have good thoughts about the meal, chew every bite, experience the taste and then swallow before going for the next bite. When eating along side watching TV, you are only focussed on what is happening on screen rather than seeing and experiencing what is present in your plate. You just keep pushing food in to your mouth. You are not making a conscious effort in chewing and swallowing, your taste buds do not fully experience the joy of eating, food is just pushed down the food canal and you end up over eating. Also, for whatever quantity that you have eaten, it is just that it passed down the food canal but neither your physical self nor spiritual self has experienced the real joy of eating.
Eat consciously, experience the food(by the senses of tongue, throat, stomach), listen to your body and you will stop eating at the right time.
Now, think about how you are feeding your child? What are you teaching her about food and eating?
It is not surprising to know that majority of parents divert their infant/toddler to video time and try feeding to their maximum capacity. And, when the child pauses eating as she is watching the video, she is immediately told to just eat what is put in the mouth so that she can have the next spoon. Are we doing the right thing? Is the child asked to bite, chew and then swallow? Is the child asked to feel the taste of the food? Is the child taught to experience the joy of eating? Are you doing it right?
1. The aim
Your aim in every feed should not be to get your child finish the entire meal that you have prepared for her, but, to teach the child to develop interest in the food that you prepared. While blind feeding your child, you may believe that whatever be the circumstance, your child has eaten and your job's done. Sadly though, it may not turn out to be the right way in a longer run. Think of what is the right thing to do. Once the child develops interest in the food you offer, even if she had just 3 spoons today, you can be sure that she would have 6 spoons the next day and then 10 spoons another day. She is a child. Give her time to learn. Learn to not just eat, but learn the tastes of all types of food that is prepared, learn how to eat right, learn to enjoy what she is eating.
So, your aim should be to get your child interested in the food you offer. Tell her what vegetable it is. Show any picture of the same. Try to relate her with that vegetable in multiple ways. You could tell her any story that involves her favourite animal eating the veggie and how good it enjoys the taste and so on. Ask her to just try tasting the food initially. Remember, the tone of your voice always matters when talking to children. You should have a curious as well as exciting tone while explaining things.
2. Show the meal
Before just putting the spoon in your child's mouth, show her what is in the plate. Explain to her how the veggie looks and tastes. Tell her how she has to eat it right.
3. Bite - Chew - Swallow
Get your child involved in her eating. Ask her to take a bite, chew it slowly and then swallow it gently. Ask her how the taste was. Let her explain in her own words.
4. Request, not order
How you talk to your child is always important in teaching the right behaviour to her. Do not summon your child to eat, do not threaten her while eating, do not raise your voice. Instead, tell her gently to just taste the food and see if she liked it or not. Meanwhile, you could also have a spoon of it and start explaining that it is really yummy in taste and she would like it too if she tried. As you build up her curiosity level, she is sure to follow your steps!
5. Talk about the food
As your child is having her meal, keep talking about the food she is having, how it is got from the field and that we have to be thankful for having the ability to eat whatever we are eating. She will surely learn more about the importance of food and also learn to be grateful in life.
Remember, as with the adults, even for children, physical health depends on the health of the mind. Children who tend to vomit while eating are not being taught to eat consciously. They are simply dumped with food and forced to swallow it quickly. This causes mental stress in the child that in turn is shown as vomit, cough, etc. while eating.
You may also be interested in similar posts: feeding children lovingly and stressed out toddler in mealtime.