To call my daughter a picky eater would be an understatement. Her diet consists primarily of wheat, dairy, and a few fruits and veggies. I considered it a culinary success when she finally ate a beef hot dog this weekend.
Figuring out how to interact with my daughter around her eating has been tricky. When I get worried about her protein or calorie intake I start “encouraging” (read: nagging) her to try something new or at least take another bite or two of whatever she’s currently eating. But I don’t want to meal times to become power struggles so I try, whenever possible, to trust that if I offer her a range of healthy foods (and yes, even unhealthy ones on occasion), she will eat what she needs.
For the most part, children are much better at eating mindfully than adults are. As the years go by (especially adolescence), many of us lose touch with our ability to eat when we are hungry and stop eating when we’re not. Food and hunger get mixed up with body image and cultural and commercial messages about what, when, and how we should eat. Combine all of that with a desire to use food to soothe ourselves in rough times and eventually we get to a place where what we put in our bodies has virtually nothing to do with what our bodies actually need.
The rest of my piece about mindful parenting and mindful eating is over on PsychCentral.com.