Ask your Inner Three-year-old.
The next time you are around little ones at a meal or snack, watch their food behaviors. They pick. Nibble. They eat slowly, perforce, since their hand/eye coordination is still a work in progress. If they find a taste, texture, or aroma that doesn’t speak to them, no amount of parental cajoling will cause them to take another bite of the offending food.
Because eating is a real experience for that toddler, the process takes time. And that slow, unhurried approach to food is what leads to the natural attunement to the body’s wisdom and signals she was born with.
She is not:
- fretting about calories, macronutrient ratios, or fat grams
- logging her estimated fiber grams in her smartphone to ascertain how many points she can trim off the effective calories of the meal
- looking at a cookie with an eye to determine how much time she’ll have to do on the stairstepper to burn it off
- feeling guilt or worse, shame, for having an appetite
- actively hating on her body for being less than perfect (despite those dimples on her thighs and all)
- rehashing stressful events of her day.
- calling foods “good” or “bad”, and therefore herself for eating them
No, she is solely focused on chewing, tasting, and enjoying her meal. Nothing more. She eats when she is hungry, and desists when she’s had just enough. No drama, struggle, angst, or browbeating is involved. When she’s done, life calls with all its interesting things to explore. She doesn’t think about food again until her body asks for it.
All of us once had this effortless food life, but for most, it becomes an elusive peace once we hit puberty. Indeed, our life around food is anything but peaceful. No matter what food, exercise, macronutrient, diet, vitamin, or mineral being discussed, one source will be bashing it while another sings its praises. So what is an eater to do?
Perhaps we should do something different. Listen to our own body, because that’s where the wisdom is. That’s where the action is. Slow down, unplug, tune in, and listen for the voice of our true self, the one with the appetite for life.