When it comes to the parent-child relationship, we see ourselves in the teaching role, but we can learn a lot from our toddlers. Consider focus, for one thing. I can barely pay attention to one task for five minutes without checking my email, Facebook, making a phone call or having a snack, but my toddler can play with his train set for 45 minutes straight. (Unless the train tracks split apart somehow, and then it's the start of a new activity: screaming.)
Another thing we can learn from our toddlers? How they eat — and in a way that may help you lose weight, says New York-based nutritionist Nicolette Pace. Not to say that we should eat one-fourth of a sandwich instead of the whole thing (though that may not be a bad idea sometimes), but instead adopt their eating habits. As adults, we tend to put our to-do lists before mealtime, not making our food choices as deliberately as we do our children's.
"Babies have a natural rhythm. While they essentially have no control over their environment and food choices, our motivation to see them through and care for them means we make a special point to feed them right," Pace told Mother Nature Network via email. "In other words ... despite how many demands we have, we can move mountains to make sure our babies eat the right foods at the right time and in the right portions. Why do we not adopt the same focus for ourselves?"
Babies instinctively tell us when they've had enough of something to eat, enough playtime or enough naptime. Pace suggests that we should listen more carefully to our own inner cues to know when it's time to eat (babies don't skip meals) and when we've had enough (babies push away food when they're not hungry anymore). In a recent interview with ABC News, Pace also suggested managing our portion sizes better. A baby's stomach is only the size of a cherry and our stomach is only the size of a softball – in other words, it's important not to overeat, even measuring your portions if necessary.
Additionally, just like babies take their time to eat, we should too – at least 15 minutes ideally.
Pace offers some tips for those struggling to manage their weight, and the key to success is baby steps – literally and figuratively. "Mimic those around you who seem to be managing their weight," she explains. "You may look no further than your baby for insight. Start a food record and identify mealtimes. Look to see how different your habits are from those who have a healthy routine and start by making a small change — either portions, food choices, more routine eating intervals or [adopting] some non-food sources of recreation."
Related on MNN:
- 5 tips for sticking to a healthy meal plan
- It's not just what you eat, but when
- 10 foods you should never, ever eat