Wondering how to teach your children to eat mindfully? Here are 18 tips.
What is Intuitive Eating and is it right for everyBODY? Why are those resolutions always about weight? What about teaching healthy lifestyle habits to families? The answers to those questions and more..
By Erica Leon, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD
Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian
Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
Originally published in Mom Dishes it Out
With the ever-present discussion of the “childhood obesity epidemic,” I asked Dr. Linda Bacon[i], an internationally recognized authority on topics related to nutrition, weight, and health metabolism, to describe exactly how best to approach weight concerns among parents and practitioners alike. Dr. Bacon proposes a major paradigm shift from conventional weight management practices to what is now referred to as “Health at Every Size.”
Hunger and cravings are different; hunger is the need for fuel while cravings are an intense desire for a specific food—with or without hunger. Learning strategies for handling cravings is essential!
What Causes Cravings?
Hunger – Whenever you feel like eating, pause to ask, “Am I hungry?” You can be hungry and crave a specific food to satisfy that hunger. If you have symptoms of hunger, assess how hungry you are. Being overly hungry can make it harder to think rationally and eat mindfully.
Stress – Most people are aware of the correlation between increased stress and cravings. People commonly crave foods like chocolate, cookies, chips, and other foods high in fat, sugar, and calories because they stimulate the reward center of your brain. These foods cause your body to release endorphins—“feel good”—chemicals.
Food for Thought: Diets Fuel Disordered Eating
It’s “National Diet Month.” Media ads for the latest and greatest weight loss programs are everywhere. In our weight-obsessed society we lose our ability to enjoy the very foods being served at social events for fear of weight gain.
We resolve to be “better” next time, and plan — Our New Year’s Resolution — THE DIET!
Resolve to Try a New Approach: Intuitive Eating
We know from years of research that 95% of all diets “fail.” Lost weight is generally regained (plus additional weight and body fat) within 3-5 years. It’s difficult to imagine any other medical procedure with a 95% failure rate being encouraged, yet diets seem to be the miracle cure for whatever ails you. Diets screw up your brain and metabolic rate and encourage a “feast or famine ” mentality.
Unintended consequences of diets include:
-food and body preoccupation,
distraction from other health-promoting behaviors like exercise,
I was so honored to be a guest on the Love, Food Podcast by Julie Duffy Dillon, RD. This episode talks about the negative effects of diets on our psyches but also looks at why they provide a function for many of us. Have a listen and subscribe to Julie’s wonderful podcast!
Why does everyone need “skinny” jeans and “skinny” lattes? Who said “skinny” equals healthy and fit? Heavier bodies can be strong and healthy. Let’s promote living, NOT dieting! Having provided nutrition counseling for well over three decades, I have seen firsthand the damage caused by fad diets and the mentality.
Ring in the New Year with Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size
It is time to focus our efforts and attention to health. A healthy body can exist in a wide range of shapes and sizes. When I work with a chronic dieter or individual recovering from an eating disorder, our goal is to adopt regular patterns of eating, increase joyful movement, and improve self-esteem.
– See if you can end the dieting cycle
-Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods
– End the war on your body and your mind
Learning to feel satisfied with your food, rather than rejecting it, can help prevent overeating and/or under-eating. Listen to what a client just told me, after practicing intuitive eating for a while:
“It’s insane! I could not possibly eat another piece of cake or scarf down a box of cookies! It doesn’t feel good for my body anymore. Last year I would have pigged out right until New Years Day, feeling way out of control. I knew I’d be dieting in the new year. That’s pretty messed up!
Find out how to say “good riddance” to food-associated stress with Intuitive Eating!
You can learn to become the expert of your body and meeting its needs. You can discover your own natural, internal signals of hunger and fullness. You can distinguish between your reasons for eating – the “why”, “when”, “what”, “how” and “how much” – as the first step in learning to eat mindfully and “intuitively.” You were born with all this knowledge deep inside of you. It is yours to reclaim.
My New Year’s resolution is about self-care — getting more sleep, practicing a new skill and connecting with friends and family more often! Can’t wait to hear yours!
In Good Health,
Hardly a day goes by without a headline warning of the dire consequences of our kids’ increasing weights and BMIs (body mass indices). Yes, we know that obesity leads to many chronic health conditions, from diabetes and heart disease, to joint and breathing problems. All too often, however, I have seen the negative consequences of focusing exclusively on a child or adolescent’s weight and body mass index. I am seeing an increase in the number of kids and teens on diets and I am also seeing an increase in eating disorders and disordered eating as a result. I believe there must be a middle ground — and a different way of reacting to expanding waistlines.
I believe this middle ground is a philosophy called Health at Every Size (HAES) and a way of eating called “Intuitive Eating.” Simply put, we change the focus from the number on the scale, to healthy behaviors from the inside out. We must educate families to take an active role in preventing weight issues in kids. Embracing a healthy lifestyle means honoring and respecting our genetic body types, fueling them with health promoting, satisfying foods, learning to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger and moving our bodies because it just feels good!
Having taught weight management programs for overweight children in the past, I have seen the stress levels caused by frequent weight checks on a scale.