Eating Like a Kid


Remember how you ate before you ever went on that first diet? The concept of Not Dieting is based on the way you and I ate before we ever developed any food issues through yo-yo dieting.

Once upon a time, Sarah, a nine-month-old girl with wispy dark hair, sat in a highchair while her mom put well-cooked, bite-sized pieces of vegetables and pinto beans before her on the highchair tray. On this particular day, Sarah scooped up a pinto bean. Bean after bean went into her mouth, until she couldn’t stuff in any more. She chewed and swallowed, eating more, until all at once, she stopped eating. Sarah’s mom tried to give her another bite. But Sarah clamped her mouth closed and jerked her head to the side. Enough! No amount of coaxing could convince her otherwise.

During the meal, Sarah wasn’t typing at a computer or working a crossword puzzle or even watching TV. Instead, her full attention was on those little beans sitting among the other vegetables. Oddly enough, at the next meal, she examined the chunks of sweet potatoes, squished them, and licked her fingers. Yum! She picked out all the sweet potatoes in her bowl. Granted, Sarah was experiencing sweet potatoes for the first time in her life, which could explain why it was such a test sensation. That, and the fact she was hungry. Whatever the reason, the sweet potatoes apparently met her nutritional need of the moment.

Curiously enough, babies don’t eat the same amount at every meal or snack, and the total amount they eat varies from day to day. For example, three-month-old Garrity nursed for 15 minutes one morning and only 10 minutes the next. When he got carried away and ate too much at a feeding, no problem—he spit up the excess. When Garrity graduated to solid food, he continued to eat the amount he wanted. If he ate a lot at one meal, he waited a longer interval before becoming fretful or otherwise indicating he wanted to eat again and when he ate, he ate less at times, depending on how active he was or who-knows-what other factors.

Next time you’re with the highchair crowd, watch how choosy they are and how they suddenly put on the brakes when they’re full, eating less or more than at the previous meal. I make a motion that we give ourselves permission to eat that way, too!

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