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Your children look to you to model healthy habits — the way you eat is the way your children will eat. By focusing on eating intuitively, you can help them develop life-long healthy attitudes toward food. But how do you do that? Here are 7 intuitive eating suggestions that will provide long-term results for your family.
Jane Bernard is a mother and author of Am I Really Hungry? 6th Sense Diet: Intuitive Eating.
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1: Turn off the TV
With childhood obesity on the rise and so many unhealthy food choices readily available, the best way to protect your children is to help them notice how their body feels when theyre hungry and when they feel satisfied. They cant do this with the TV on.
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2: Talk about your priorities
Show kids that dinner is a time to socialize by exchanging ideas and and sharing in the pleasure of eating. Children who learn to be social when they eat don't turn to ice cream for comfort as are adults they've learned to communicate what matters to them with words, not food.
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3: Teach your children to notice what they're eating
Talk about how food tastes, smells, and looks. Let your kids know you serve what you believe will keep them healthy and strong, and talk about why that is. Encourage curiosity its an intuitive tool that opens doors for thinking. You want your children to be curious about what they eat so they can make healthy choices. Also, encourage older kids to find why certain foods are beneficial to their bodies, and ask them to let you know about it during your next meal together.
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4: Let kids share their ideas of what's delicious
Everyone has a different idea of what tastes good, so be flexible. Don't force them to eat what they don't want. Offer only healthy options, and then encourage your kids to participate in family eating choices. This teaches them to tune into their bodies, take charge of their eating choices, and think critically about what they eat. Plus, you're showing them that you respect what they think, which builds self-esteem.
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5: Play with your food
For fun, have a meal of "tastes" designed by your child. Let them experiment with various food combos and since a taste is just a teaspoon, don't worry about whether they'll be good or not. You may find yourself tasting ketchup on pretzel or biting into a raw potato. Encouraging exploration teaches your child that he can be in control of his eating choices. (But be sure to have some back up good food "just in case.")
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6: Listen to your body
If you had a big business lunch and you're not really hungry at dinnertime, eat light. By listening to your body instead of eating by the clock, you teach your children that eating is personal. By respecting yourself, you teach your children to do the same. It will serve them well throughout their lives.
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7: Really enjoy your food and your family
It's intuitive to enjoy eating. When you savor what you goes into your body, you eat slower, digest your food more efficiently, and naturally crave the nutrients your body needs. And lingering over dinner shows your kids you enjoy their company, too. By combining the pleasure of healthy eating with the pleasure of family time, you'll be "feeding" your kids in more ways than one. After all, sometime a nice hug is the perfect dessert.
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