A refreshing article on feeding children recently appeared in the pages of Newsweek. Titled “Not Hungry? No Problem,” it’s an article about a new booklet produced by a nonprofit group named Zero to Three. You can get a free copy of the booklet “Healthy from the Start” by going to Zero to Three’s website.
The feeding advice given in the booklet is intended to help with the problem of childhood obesity. Unlike the all-too-common advice about carefully controlling a child’s eating, this booklet appears to recommend the more progressive approach that encourages parents to let children make decisions based on the child’s inner cues. Parents provide the food choices, and the child makes the decision whether he or she will eat or not and how much. This is advice first served up by Ellyn Satter, a pioneering child feeding expert, and someone worth listening to. Basically, she advises parents to take charge of their children’s food, allowing all things in moderation, but let children take charge of their eating. That is, encourage children to listen to their bodies and decide what’s right for them.
If only we had all started eating mindfully in the first three years of life. Actually, a lot (most?) of us probably did. Then we fell victim to pressures to be thin, or to our hectic lifestyles that just don’t blend well with mindfulness. Either way, we can become mindful again. And reap the same benefits we hope for children who are just starting out. Our ‘start’ can be any day. One of the attitudes of mindfulness is ‘beginner’s mind,’ to "see the present moment, cultivate a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time and be open to new possibilities" (that from mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn).
It’s like finding the child in ourselves again.