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Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Meals Over Big Macs...What a toddler can teach us about eating to achieve our weight loss goals

When you think about a toddler, what comes to mind? Boundless energy…fun-loving….and generally happy, except when they are mindlessly screaming because they wanted to shut the van door and you accidentally shut it yourself. Lack of emotional filters aside, we can really learn a lot about how to be healthy and lose weight from toddlers. 

  1. Only eat the amount you need. Toddlers are great at this. To many parents’ dismay, children go through periods where one would think they are on a Lenten fast, and they won’t eat even their favorite foods. But toddlers will generally only eat the amount their body needs. In a survey by Appetite magazine, 85% of 142 families say they try to get their kids to eat to eat more at meal-time through persuasion. But the old adage that “a child will eat when he is hungry” is really true, and we should follow that rule as well.
  2. Take your time when you eat. My son is the master at this…so much so that sometimes we have to set a kitchen timer just to get him to move it along when we are on a schedule. But Jake just really likes to talk at dinner….a lot! That translates into long meal times. It really is helpful to be social when you can with your meals. People that are too busy to sit down with their family to eat are often people who gain weight. Why? Because eating together, talking as you eat, and taking your time will help you feel full faster and eat fewer calories. But no, you don’t have to bring your favorite Thomas the Tank Engine or baby doll to distract you from your food.
  3. Just keep moving! Now, your toddler probably does this before, during, and after dinner. I am not suggesting you move constantly during your meal, but I certainly think you could move before or after. Even if it is just to get on the floor with the kids and wrestle around with them after dinner, every bit of motion you can add to your day will help you in your overall weight-loss goals.
  4. Happy Meals over Big Macs. When eating out, think about eating a “child’s” meal. A McDonald’s Happy Meal has anywhere from 450-650 calories. Since an adult meal should probably be around that amount based on a 1,500-2,000 calorie/day meal plan, adults should think about eating a child-size portion when eating out. No, you don’t have to eat a child’s hamburger and apple dippers, but you should rethink the size and quantity of your portions if you want to be successful in achieving your goals.

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