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Children have many natural behaviors that can teach us adults how to love food – but not too much. In my last post I talked about what I've learned from them about eating. Here are important lessons I've learned from them about nutrition:  

Snacks are good.  Kids naturally prefer to eat smaller meals with snacks in between whenever they get hungry. That pattern of eating keeps their energy up and their metabolism stoked all day. Adults who need to fire up their energy and metabolism might benefit from this pattern too.

All foods fit.  Though parents sometimes worry about sugar and junk food, "fun" foods are part of a healthy diet. In fact, overly restrictive food rules usually lead to rebellious eating anyway – just think about the last time you weren't "allowed" to eat something on a diet. Children and adults both eat healthier when they enjoy these less nutritious foods in moderation when they want them.

You can learn to like new foods.   Healthy eating is an acquired taste; it can take up to ten tries of a new food before a child will incorporate it into their diet. Good nutrition is essential, so providing a variety of appealing, healthful foods will benefit the whole family. In our house, we had a two-bite rule when my kids were young. Assuming everyone at the table was hungry, they needed to taste two small bites of everything we served. If they still didn't like it, we didn't force or bribe them to eat it—but they did need to try it again the next time we had it. Since that was "The Rule," there were no battles at the table and the kids often surprised themselves by liking something they thought they wouldn't. As teenagers they both enjoy a wide variety of foods.

*Be a picky eater. * The corollary to the lesson above is that kids won't easily eat something they don't like. As adults we sometimes eat cold French fries, stale cookies or salty chili just because it's there. Be a little pickier! Think of how much less food you'd eat if you didn't settle for food that tasted "so-so."  

There is more to a party than cake and ice cream.  Invite a child to a party and they'll want to know what they're going to get to do. Invite an adult and they'll wonder what food will be served. You don't have to avoid parties to keep your weight down. Just focus on the real purpose of social events—to be social—and let food be the icing on the cake.

Next time, I’ll share some of the lessons I’ve learned from kids about living a healthy lifestyle.
Michelle May MD
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Michelle, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.


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