You put a lot of thought into how you feed and nurture your babyーーand that’s a good thing! The benefit of this is that applying the same care to your own diet can make you healthier, too. So, incorporate the following five ways to feed your baby into your eating habits:
1. When you’re hungry, it’s time to eat
At an early age, we learn to understand babies’ hunger cues: rooting, lip kissing, finger sucking, and sometimes, even the dreaded “I could have eaten an hour ago” cry. Babies are not born with the instinct to eat because they are bored, sad or anxious. Their hunger is related to their caloric needs, which can change depending on how active they are or whether they are experiencing a growth spurt. While adults may not experience rapid growth (at least we hope not!) The same applies to us: when we’ve worked out or are otherwise active, we need to eat more than when we’re sitting on the couch binge-watching Netflix all afternoon. So take a lesson from your baby and practice some positive thinking as you adjust to hunger cues. Are you really craving, or are you just snacking out of boredom or stress? The answer to this question can have a big impact on those calorie increases.
2. Eat nutritious, real food
When we think of a baby’s first food, we rarely think of salty snacks, packaged cookies, or cartoon-shaped fast food mascots. Chances are, if you see an adult spoon feeding a 6-month-old fluorescent cheese puff, you might even consider warning the authorities! It is well known that the ideal diet for infants is a balanced one that includes fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, whole grains and healthy proteins. While babies of different sizes have different needs, there are some basic principles of a healthy baby diet you can adopt to promote your overall health. Eat more unprocessed, all-natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, which retain more nutrients than processed foods. When you eat primarily in this way ーー eat foods as close to their natural state as possible ーー you will find it much easier to avoid consuming excessive amounts of sugar, sweeteners and salt.
3. Try new foods
When infants first begin to explore solid foods, it is interesting to see how they react to new foods. New tastes and textures can bring excitement, curiosity, and even silliness. When first starting to eat, infants will usually try many different foods. This is good news, although a bit confusing, not only from a developmental standpoint, but also because trying new tastes and textures can lead to eating a more varied diet. Children can get a wide variety of nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins by eating a wide variety of foods. A varied diet is also a healthier diet for the mother. We keep our babies interested in food by offering them new choices on a regular basis, and the same strategy can maintain a healthy diet. Choosing a variety of foods will keep your diet exciting so you don’t fall into a routine. Trying new foods will expose you to healthy foods you didn’t know you liked. Accept your baby’s attitude toward new tastes and textures. Who knows? Maybe, if you’re like your baby, you’ll love that kiwi green milkshake, you’ll giggle, you’ll coo, you’ll applaud, and… … Well, then you’ll accidentally knock over your cup and spill the rest on the floor and slide in.
4. enjoy and savor every bite
Anyone who has ever watched a baby spend 45 minutes chewing on a handful of puffs and a string cheese knows that these people can really savor a meal. Babies eat one cereal ring at a time. They examine their food, touch it, smell it, crush it. They like (almost) everything. Babies take time, partly because they are still learning how to eat, but mostly because they haven’t learned to do things in a hurry. They instinctively know that the slower they go, the better. Eating slowly and more deliberately also makes dining more enjoyable for adults and is a healthier way to eat. Studies show that eating slowly can help you eat less because it gives your brain time to process the feeling of fullness coming from your stomach. It takes about 20 minutes from the time you start eating to let you know you’re full, so a subdued pace gives your brain and body enough time to send signals. Chewing your food slowly increases the digestive enzymes in your mouth, which promotes better digestion as the food passes through your body system. Also, when you taste your food and do nothing but enjoy the taste, texture and experience, you may find that one or two indulgent bites are enough to make you feel satisfied.
5. When you’re full, it’s time to stop eating
Believe it or not, there are things we can learn from children who turn their heads, clench their mouths and throw out sweet potatoes that mark the end of baby’s mealtime. It’s an incredible thing. Babies know when they’ve reached their limit, and then they stop eating. Most adults, on the other hand, have lost this natural instinct over time. We often neglect to stop eating when we’re full, instead letting outside cues, like a clean plate, an empty package or the end of a TV show, dictate the end of mealtime. Those who first learn – or never forget – to stop eating when they’re comfortable rather than full are better able to control their weight. So try this strategy the next time you sit down to eat: push your plate away when you’re 80% full, and don’t keep gobbling when you’re completely full. And after that? The kitchen is closed. You may be surprised to find out how satisfied you’ll feel with a little room left in your tank.