This is a follow up to our post “Eat What Your Toddler Eats” where we discuss reclaiming “normal” eating habits after pregnancy and nursing have come to a close. The actual food (and drinks) you put into your mouth is important, but so are the habits you’ve made surrounding eating. Follow your toddler’s lead here too!
Stop When You Are Full
Toddlers still understand their bodies’ natural hunger cues. I, on the other hand, over-rode those cues many years ago. Eat like your toddler: slowly. Sometimes painfully so. Give your body a chance to send cues that you are full. Portion control is a big issue for me. I got used to eating salads meant to feed an entire family all by myself. Try eating off of your kids’ dishes. Don’t eat the same amount as them, just use the same plate. It should not only make you feel like you are eating more, it also helps you serve more normal portions. I LOVE these Re-Play divided plates!
They’re recycled, they nest, they have high edges (for little hands still learning to feed themselves), they don’t have obnoxious cartoons on them, and the colors make choosing a plate an opportunity for practice with color words.
Never Skip Breakfast
Every morning I hear, “Mommy, mommy! Up, up!” and then immediately “EAT!” Imagine how your toddler would behave if they skipped breakfast. Yikes, right? Then why do we do it to ourselves?
Try New Foods
We all know that we need to be introducing our kids to new flavors and textures. We know that variety is not only the spice of life, but also the key to nutrient variation. Get out of your food rut. Find one new healthy recipe to try every couple of weeks. Try searching by a new vegetable you want to eat more of rather than by the protein. Sometimes they flop, it happens. Stick with it, though. Remember that week your toddler hated sweet potatoes and then happily scarfed them down every day the following week? Sometimes it takes multiple attempts to get us used to new and different flavors.
Snack Time is for Adults, Too
Eat every 3-5 hours. As long as your snacks are healthy, this is a great way to keep from binging at mealtimes. Most likely your toddler is eating this often anyway, so eat the other half of that avocado or get a few tablespoons of hummus for yourself.
Keep an Eye on Your Poop
The same things you are looking for in your child’s bowel movements apply to yours. If you aren’t going regularly, if it is too firm (please, please, please don’t make me go into detail here), or if it hurts: something is wrong. Go ahead and check out your pee before you flush too. If it’s dark yellow, your body is crying out for water! Seriously though, eat fiber, drink water, and watch your poop.
Use the K.I.S.S. Method
“Keep it Simple…Sweetie” Toddlers naturally don’t like foods with extreme flavors. Their senses haven’t been so overloaded by salt and high fructose corn syrup that they crave over-flavoring. Try to get back to that. It takes time, but you really CAN re-train yourself to enjoy something that isn’t so over the top. I tried name brand peanut butter (I refuse to call it “normal” peanut butter) the other day and almost gagged – the texture and flavors were all just TOO MUCH. I’ll take my ugly label with peanuts (and salt if I’m feeling frisky) as the only ingredient(s) any day. When I cook for the family I try to use half the salt, cheese, or sauce it calls for.
Dessert, What’s That?
My toddler doesn’t get dessert. He doesn’t even get the idea of dessert because we don’t talk about it. He would never expect an unhealthy treat because he ate all his vegetables or to be rewarded for good behavior with food. Yes, someday outside influences will change this but, for now, we form his reality – and in his reality when we don’t introduce the idea of dessert it isn’t something he expects. This idea seems to be more radical than I anticipated. Have a non-medicated labor and people ask, “Really, why?” Encapsulate your placenta and people roll their eyes. Turn down a cookie or request prunes for the Easter egg hunt and you WILL get grief. Why would you ever deprive your child so?!
Building the foundation of his relationship with food on healthy choices was NOT a parenting choice I anticipated having to defend.
A common (and 100% valid) argument is, “Why won’t you let him have that ______, you just ate it!” I crave it. I have a hard time saying no to it. When you weren’t looking I actually had three more. I feel guilt after I eat it. These are all the reasons I don’t want him to start down that path. If you could go back in time and stop yourself from some of your unhealthy eating habits wouldn’t you jump at the chance? If I could magically re-set my mind to not crave Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate frozen yogurt after a bad day I would pay GOOD money.
When it’s all said and done, we’d all be a little better off if we just lived life a little more like our toddlers.
weight gain after weaning