No, I don't mean that you should play with your food, make a mess, or fill up on goldfish, but I DO believe that there is a lot we can learn from the eating habits of healthy little kids!  The other day I was babysitting a little girl from my church and it hit me... what if I ate more like her?  She eats cookies and goodies, but turns her head away as soon as she's had her fill.  Think about it, children know how to listen to their bodies much better than adults do.

When I was a Senior in High School I taught nutrition lessons to children at a local elementary school as a part of my Senior Project.  While I was the one teaching the lessons, I can honestly say that I learned a lot from those kids!  Although (nationally) childhood obesity is on the rise, at the school where I taught, about 95% of the children were at a healthy weight.  They were all pretty active, that's for sure!  And judging from our discussion and the answers to my questions, they seemed to maintain a pretty balanced diet.

Here are 6 things 'healthy kids' do:

1. Kids stop eating when they are full.
 Honestly, I think this is one of the biggest lessons 'we adults' can learn from the little ones.  Kids always seem to stop eating when they've satisfied their appetite... OR as soon as something more 'fun' starts happening!  They push their plates away when they've had their fill.  Adults, on the other hand, find to find it difficult to resist seconds... no matter what else is going on!

2. Kids snack regularly.
 Say what you will about having 3 meals a day or 6, the point is that kids eat little portions regularly.  This keeps their metabolism humming and their energy up!  Also, their snacks are often healthy ones.  Many moms and dads these days stock shelves and fridges with nutritious options.  Why not nourish yourself the way you would a child?  A small plate of carrots and hummus or peanut butter and crackers in the afternoon is a great way to keep your energy up and prevent a late night, hunger-driven binge!

3. Kids eat healthy!
 Okay, so this may not inherently be up to the child, but lots of school-aged children eat healthy foods on a regular basis.  Parents can whip up a quick and hearty bowl of oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, a banana and peanut butter sammie for lunch, cheese and crackers for snack time, popcorn or fruit after school, and chicken and steamed veggies for dinner.  It seems that kids' little tummies are always being filled with light, nourishing foods, thanks to the awareness of 'health savvy' parents!

4. Kids eat small portions.  In addition to eating healthy foods throughout the day, children eat much smaller portions than adults.  Sure, adults can afford to eat more calories than a child, but we could learn a thing or two from the size of "kids meals" as opposed to the "value meals" we see advertised.  We could satisfy our appetites with MUCH smaller portions.

5. Kids don't feel guilty about treats.  This is one of the biggest things I've noticed about a lot of little kids.  They won't pass up a cookie or a piece of chocolate, but they also don't have to binge on it.  And they NEVER seem to walk around 'punishing' themselves for that moment of indulgence!  They don't feel guilty at all!  As an adult, this is one of the biggest things I'm learning.  Moderation is the key when it comes to weight maintenance, and kids seem to be experts at it!

6. Kids are active.  Okay, this doesn't exactly qualify as an eating habit, but it still falls under the category of health.  Think about how active kids are.  My little cousins eat A LOT of food (more than I would recommend) but they keep their weight down because they are constantly moving.  They always want to hide and seek, chase, race and play tag... They want to 'be first' and 'beat you'... They want to build and create and let their imaginations run wild!  How can you do all that and not use up a ton of calories!!?  (It sounds kinda fun, doesn't it?)

Soooo, these are some of the healthy eating habits I've learned from children.  Healthy kids have great habits!  They listen to their bodies, they aren't afraid to treat themselves,  and they're always active!  I don't know about you, but these are all things that I would like to characterize the year 2014 for ME!

How about you?  Have you learned any 'healthy habits' from children?!

 


Comments

Proulx Iyole
01/12/2014 8:10pm

Interesting read! I find that my husband doesn't know when to stop. When I make a batch of cookies, I will be looking for them the next day, only to find that they are all already gone.
Anyway, I would love to eat healthier like this, but I have a question. I like to eat raw almonds, a habit one of my high school friends gave me, but I'm not sure how much would be a good portion for a snack :-( I would love your input!

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01/13/2014 4:04pm

I hear ya! Sometimes cookies are just so tasty! And various sources will tell you different amounts of almonds that you should eat, I would say have a small handful and make it a bit more of a satisfying snack with some fresh fruit on the side! :)

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01/12/2014 8:32pm

I totally agree with this-especially the stopping when full part. I wonder around what age kinds lose these habits?

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01/13/2014 4:06pm

Yeah, I've read something about how they lose them as they age and are told to finish there foods... but I'm not sure exactly what age :/ Good question though!

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Kristin
01/13/2014 4:56am

So true. I wish I could be done when I'm full like my 3 year old daughter. At least I think I'm teaching her good workout habits. When I treadmill she likes to 'exercise' in the same room!

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01/13/2014 4:06pm

That is great!! I'm sure you are a great inspiration for her :)

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I love this post! I've actually kind of thought about kinds' eating habits as well. I look after two boys (who are a little older than 6 years, but eat the same way) and it has often struck me, that they stop when they are full. I sure think we could learn something from kids

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01/13/2014 4:07pm

Agreed!! It is so natural for them to just stop... even if they still have half of their plate in front of them!

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01/13/2014 5:44am

These reasons are so true, Cailee, and I love this informative post. It's so funny, too, that when you order a kid's meal out, it's a portion size that most adults should be eating! I think as I've gotten older my portion size has gotten smaller and I exercise more, because the metabolism isn't quite the same. haha I wish I had done that at a younger age, however.

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01/13/2014 4:08pm

Thanks Marcie! And it is amazing how much bigger portions have gotten lately... it's no wonder obesity is a problem... :(

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So true - what a great idea :)

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01/13/2014 4:09pm

Thanks Bianca!

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01/13/2014 12:28pm

I would have never thought of it like this! And yes yes yes to not feeling guilty about eating a treat!

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01/13/2014 4:10pm

It's so amazing... when I restrict sweets from my diet I crave them and end up eating way too many, but when I allow them... it's so much easier to stop after just a small bite!

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01/13/2014 12:30pm

Great post Cailee and what a great way to looking at healthier eating habits. Hehe, I agree, my lil guy stops eating when he is full and get distracted sooo easily! He is always on the go and never seems to gets tired just like your cousins :) Thanks for sharing and hope you have a great week!

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01/13/2014 4:11pm

No problem Kelly!! I'm so glad that you liked the post :)

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So true! My daughter is a little older than 6 but she regularly turns down food if she's not hungry and stops eating when she is full.

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01/13/2014 4:11pm

So intuitive! So simple... I think we could all learn from her!!

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01/13/2014 4:57pm

I absolutely love this! I almost named my blog "Fit Like a Kid" because I truly believe that kids can teach adults so much about fitness and nutrition.

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01/14/2014 5:51pm

Thanks Liz! And that is such a cute name... It's so true! We really can learn a lot from the little ones when it comes to health and nutrition!

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Cailee, these are all spot on! You are so smart! :)

Shelley and I recently did a 5 part series on our site about picky eaters, and during our research and discussions, we talked a lot about the points you made here! One of our biggest dilemmas was trying to figure out when we lose that internal 'I'm full!' sign. Kids just stop when they are full, but adults eat until they are uncomfortable. I think portions sizes have a lot to do with it!

We also live in a very healthy town, with active kids - and active parents! I think one of the most important things parents can do is to be a great role model! It's one thing to feed your kid healthy foods and sign them up for the soccer team. But it's not doing them any good if the parent goes and eats chips and is a couch potato! NO! We need to live the life we want for our kids! I want my kids to be strong and healthy - so we, as a family, make good food choices (with some indulgences from time to time!) and are active!

Great read, Cailee! :)

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01/14/2014 5:57pm

Thanks Gretchen!! I am so glad that you liked the post!! :) It is so crazy how much we can learn from them!! And it sounds like you are teaching your children some great life long habits!! Very inspirational!

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01/13/2014 7:29pm

I love this way of thinking about eating! Everything you said about the way kids eat is so true and definitely something we adults should learn from. I just stumbled upon your blog and look forward to reading more from you :)

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01/14/2014 5:58pm

Thanks so much Sky!! I am excited to read more about you in your blog :)

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01/14/2014 4:22am

I agree...my 12-year old is my good example to follow. Nice post! :) ela

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01/14/2014 5:59pm

Thanks Ela!

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01/14/2014 6:20am

These are really cool tricks! I love the don't feel guilty about your treats one ;--)

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01/14/2014 5:59pm

Thanks Consuelo!

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01/14/2014 8:21am

I agree, eating like a kid is the way to go. It was so much easier back when we were young and didn't think and obsess about everything we put in our mouths! It's so hard to retrain ourselves to listen to our bodies...i've been making pretty good progress though :)

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01/14/2014 6:00pm

Good for you Amy!! Yeah, it is a process... but it's so worth it!

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01/14/2014 9:17am

This is one of my favorite posts of yours, Cailee! Talk about insightful! You nailed every single one, especially about listening to their bodies and not feeling guilty. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement today; excellent job!!!

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01/14/2014 6:01pm

Thanks Mary Frances!! I am so happy to hear that you liked the info!! Hope that you have a great rest of your week!

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01/14/2014 10:30am

What an interesting concept :) Some great points here! I wish I could say I ate healthy as a kid, but I didn't haha! I totally agree about not feeling guilty about treats, and also that they're on the go constantly. We could definitely learn a thing or two :)

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01/14/2014 6:02pm

Thanks Louise! Yeah I'm still learning from them... haha

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01/14/2014 4:56pm

Haha I am a kid at heart :) And stomach...

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01/14/2014 6:02pm

Haha! Way to go Matt :)

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01/15/2014 9:11am

You're so right, there are so many tips we can learn from them! Especially with stopping when we are full; sometimes I think we adults eat as if we will never see food again!

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01/18/2014 11:08am

Haha!! That's so true! Thanks for stopping by Jessica!

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01/15/2014 10:43am

the problem with me is i don't stop eating.. I need to stop eating when I'm full and I'd automatically lose the 5 pounds I always struggle with.

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01/18/2014 11:07am

Yeah... sometimes it's hard to figure out when you should stop, but you've got this!

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01/16/2014 10:20am

I never thought of this way, but you are so right! I love this new perspective. :)

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01/18/2014 11:08am

Thanks Tina!! :)

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01/22/2014 12:57pm

Yes, I do find it true that my six year old stops eating as soon as he is full, even if he likes the food. Though I have to say that I eat a LOT healthier as an adult than as a kid. I just didn't develop a palette for broccoli, salads and other healthy things when I was younger.

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01/26/2014 12:07pm

So true!! Glad to hear you are eating healthy!!

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01/24/2014 8:28am

This is such a great post and speaks the pure truth. My mom tells me when I was a kid it was a challenge to get me to eat. Now I feel like I can't stop eating but its mostly out of boredom, stress, socializing, or just because its there. Kids definitely eat to live!

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01/26/2014 12:08pm

Haha! So true... I wish I would go run around and play like a kid when I'm bored!! Haha!

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01/24/2014 8:53am

This is great! I am a professional nanny and sometimes I deal with parents who have picky eaters for kids. Sometimes they don't eat much, but what I remind the parents is that your kids will eat when they are hungry! Present them with healthy choices and they will get what they need! We were always forced to eat what was on our plate growing up, and I feel that lead to some of my own challenges with it comes to food. I have made many changes, but I am also more sensitive to 'forcing' children to eat.

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01/26/2014 12:10pm

Thanks!! And that is true... I was reading about how it's bad for parents to force their kids too eat, but at the same time they need to be sure their children get enough nutrients. It's all about balance I guess!

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