Healthy Food Lessons Which You Can Learn From Feeding Baby
You put a lot of thought into how and what you feed your baby – and that’s a good thing! The bonus is that applying that same care to your own diet can make you healthier, too. So put these five baby-feeding practices into your own eating routine:
1. When you’re hungry, it’s time to eat
Babies aren’t born with an instinct to eat because they’re bored, sad, or anxious. They experience hunger in relation to their caloric needs, which can change based on how active they’ve been or whether they’re going through a growth spurt.
When we’ve exercised and been otherwise active, we need to eat more than when we’ve parked ourselves on the couch for an afternoon of binge watching Tv. So, take a lesson from your baby and exercise some mindfulness as you tune in to your hunger cues. Are you really ravenous, or just snacking out of boredom or stress? The answer to that question can make a big difference in how those calories add up.
2. Enjoy and savor every bite
Babies eat their Cheerios 1 at a time. They relish (almost) everything. Anyone who has ever watched a baby take 45 minutes to munch a handful of puffs and a string cheese knows that these people can really savor a meal. Babies take their time, partly because they’re still learning how to eat, but largely because they haven’t yet learned to rush things. They know, instinctively, that slow is better. Eating slowly, more deliberately, makes dining more pleasurable for grown-ups, too, and is a healthier way to eat. Studies have shown that eating slowly helps you eat less because it gives your brain time to process the fullness cues from your stomach. Since it takes about 20 minutes from the time you start eating for your brain to let you know you’re full, a leisurely pace gives your brain and body the right amount of time to signal when you’ve had enough. Chewing foods slowly increases the digestive enzymes in your mouth, which allows for better overall digestion as the food moves through your system.
3. Eat nutritious, real food
When we think about a baby’s first foods, rarely do images of salty snacks, packaged cookies, or cartoonish fast food mascots come to mind. It’s common knowledge that an ideal diet for baby is a balanced one, comprised of fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, whole grains, and healthy protein. Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains—they retain more nutrients than processed foods. And when you mostly eat this way—consuming food as close to its natural state as possible—you’ll find it much easier to avoid excess sugars, sweeteners, and salt.
4. Try new foods
When babies first begin exploring solids their reactions to new foods can be pretty fun to watch. And little ones who consume all sorts of foods get a diverse mix of nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins. A varied diet is a healthier diet for mom, too. We keep babies interested in food by regularly offering them new options, and the same strategy can work for maintaining a healthy diet. Choosing a variety of foods keeps your meals exciting so that you don’t get stuck in a rut. Trying new foods exposes you to healthy options you didn’t know you loved.
5. When you’re full, it’s time to stop eating
Believe it or not, there’s something to be learned from those turned heads, clenched mouths, and tossed sweet potatoes that signal the end of your baby’s mealtime. It’s an incredible thing. Babies know when they’ve reached their limit, and then they stop eating. Most adults, on the other hand, have lost this natural instinct over time. All too often we neglect to stop eating when our bellies are full and, instead, let external cues like a clean plate, an empty package or the end of a television show dictate the end of mealtime. So try this tactic next time you sit down for a meal: push your plate away when you’re 80 percent satiated and don’t continue to gorge yourself once you are completely full. After that? Kitchen’s closed. You may be surprised how satisfied you feel with a little room left in your tank.