Learning How To Eat From My Son

Kids are much smarter than we give them credit for.  I learn so much each day from my son, who will be turning 10 this summer.  The words of wit and wisdom that fly from his mouth some days are truly amazing.

Although he is an incredibly picky eater, in many ways he is much wiser than I am when it comes to eating and nutrition.  Of course with that said, let me point out that rarely does a vegetable pass through his lips.  And I am a smart enough parent to make sure that he gets his vitamins on a daily basis.

 But he is a much smarter eater than I am, most likely because he listens to his body.  Unlike me, he eats when he is hungry.  And that's pretty much the only time he DOES eat.  I have fallen into the trap/habit of unconscious eating.  I'm bored:  I eat.  I'm anxious:  I eat.  I'm happy:  I eat.  You get the idea.  He eats when he is hungry.

Most days he eats 3 meals and 2 snacks.  For breakfast, most days (school days) he has oatmeal.  He favors strawberry, but will go with other fruit flavors as well.  Along with that he has a vitamin and orange juice.  Some days he will have some mini muffins or mini donuts, but NOT every day.  It is his choice.  If he asks, he can have.  But he doesn't always ask.  Many mornings he just wants a quick breakfast and then it's off to play before school.  Unlike his mother, he doesn't eat just because it's there.

He drinks water throughout the day.  His teachers have always allowed water bottles in class and I fill it every day.  Some days it comes home empty.  Some days it's barely been touched.  He knows when he needs to be hydrated and water is his choice.  At the end of the day, he will frequently run upstairs to the bathroom for a "cup of water" (even though he could get it from the sink in the kitchen).  He fills a small Dixie cup and drinks.  If he wants more, he'll have more.  Even if he is outside playing with his friends, if he feels thirsty he will come home and get a quick drink of water.  I've never denied him milk, or juice.  I've even allowed him soda (although it is a special treat and he knows that).  But if you ask him what he'd like to drink, he'll go for water.  (One exception to the rule is whenever we go out to a restaurant to eat; then he'll request pink lemonade.)

He does have snacks.  A small snack is packed for school during the mid-morning break.  It's not particularly nutritious; usually a pop tart or a pack of mini muffins.  When he comes home he also has a snack.  It's his choice.  He usually picks cookies or some sort of candy.  But he is usually self-limiting.  He has what he wants and knows when he is full.  And, if for some reason he isn't hungry, he won't have a snack.  It is rare, but there are times when he still has his snack in his backpack when he comes home from school.  If he is not hungry, he does not eat, even if it is "snack time,” He listens to his body.

He would rather run around outside than eat.  While I believe that eating a family meal together is important (even though we don't all eat the same thing), if he's outside with his friends when meal time comes around I generally let him stay out and play.  In today's society it seems like there is too little time to actually go outside and play.  So when the opportunity does present itself, I just let him go.  When it gets dark or when the other kids go inside, there is always time for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Peanut butter and jelly is his favorite.  He would eat it every day and every meal if he could.  I'm liberal with the peanut butter and less so with the jelly.  He would prefer to eat whole wheat or whole grain bread over white.  I don't know how that happened, as I freely admit that I am a white bread junkie (Pepperidge Farm Hearty White addict here).  Washed down with a glass of milk, you've got to admit it's pretty nutritious.  (More so than the hot dog that he will sometimes ask for.)

I would be less heavy and healthier if I would follow my son's lead.  If I ate only when I was hungry.  If I drank water instead of something else (be it soda, wine, coffee...).  If I played more.  If I listened to my body.  If I ate only if I wanted to and did not depend on the clock telling me it is time to eat.


My kid is pretty smart when it comes to food.  If I am smart, I will learn and follow his lead.


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