As Hunter and I were eating our mid morning snack today – him chicken and steamed carrots – myself toasted whole grain bread with mashed avocado – I thought to myself, Hunter eats pretty dang well. After that thought, I cut up some more chicken and carrots and sprinkled them on my toast. Rounding out the snack a bit more.
Hunter isn’t just good at eating, his diet rocks. Not that he chooses it himself, but I’m glad to see that he likes healthy foods. He eats lots of veggies, fruits, healthy fats, a variety of both meat and non-meat protein, whole grains, and not much salt or sugar. And again, he loves it.
Once we aren’t babies anymore, when does all of this change? Is it at our first birthday when we slam fistfuls of sweet sugary cake into our face? Or go headfirst into the cake? Does it start when we begin watching TV commercials with food ads geared towards kids? Do the processed foods revamp our taste buds to want salty and sugary foods? I don’t really have an answer for those questions, but I do have some tips on how to get back to where we once started.
Eat like a baby – Five steps to eating a healthier diet
Step 1) Eat small meals throughout the day. Shoot for 5-6 mini meals. When I feed Hunter I don’t really distinguish between breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks. I offer him the same amount of food at each meal.
Step 2) Eat slow and stop when you begin to feel full. This one is key! Meals with Hunter take a good 20-30 minutes, but I could scarf down food in 5 minutes flat if I wanted to. Eating slowly allows your stomach to tell your brain it is getting full. That takes about 20 minutes. So eat slow and once you begin to feel full, STOP! By following baby-led weaning (click to read part 1 and part 2), Hunter’s allowed to stop once he is done eating. He pretty much always has some food left on his tray, and that’s okay. It’s his way of telling me he’s full when he stops eating.
Step 3) Have a fruit or vegetable (or both!) at every meal/snack. Take some time to prep them ahead (washing/chopping/steaming/roasting… etc.). I find the hardest part for me is once I’m hungry wanting to grab something quick, and if those fruits and veggies aren’t an easy option, I’m less likely to go for them.
Step 4) Have a variety of food on your plate. Shoot for a balanced meal of carbohydrates (whole grains, fruit and starchy veggies), fat and protein (vary with meat and non-meat sources). Just like Hunter’s mid morning snack I talked about above, it was balanced. Carrot for the carbohydrate, and chicken thighs for the fat + protein. You don’t always need three different things, some foods double in categories. My snack I was eating, toasted whole grain bread with mashed avocado, needed some protein so I threw on a little chicken. The carrot just rounded it out with some extra veggies.
Step 5) Break the rules sometimes. Yup, you don’t have to eat 100% perfect all the time. There are going to be times you want some chocolate or brownies (like tonight when Jacob made a batch… mmmmm), or some salty chips if that’s your thing. Then go for it, just don’t make it the majority of what you eat. Hunter’s had a couple tastes of sweets (mango coconut bread comes to my mind), but it’s not an every day thing, and it wasn’t like that was his whole meal. It’s all about balance, and balancing out what you eat, trying to tip the scale to the healthier side.
I know there are days when I’m no where near following these steps, but I make a goal to do my best. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about striving to eat healthier, feel good in the process, and be happy while you do it.
When do you think babies/kids/adults taste buds change?
Have a great night!