This morning, my wife wrote on the kitchen board: Oatmeal muffin + milk + fruit salad.
On days that she is working, Ellen writes instructions for our boys to follow throughout the day. When my 5 and 7-year-old came to me to help serve them, I was talking on the phone and told them to go and serve themselves but wait for me to come give them the fruit salad since the bowl containing it was big and higher up in the fridge. I didn’t want to them to drop it and make a mess.
About thirty minutes later, they noticed that I was done with my phone call and came running to me to go and give them the fruit salad.
I went to the kitchen with them, pulled out the fruit salad, got their bowls and was about to serve them when it occurred to me to ask them if they really wanted to eat the fruit salad or were doing it out of a sense of duty.
“Do you guys really want to eat the fruit salad now?”
Joshua looked at me, uninterested. Then Caleb responded,
“But it’s on the board. Mama wanted us to eat it.”
I realized at that moment that they were trying to eat it to be obedient to their mother, not because they were hungry.
“Are you guys hungry?”, I asked.
“No, I’m not hungry”, both responded almost in unison. And Joshua continued, “I’m full from eating the oatmeal muffin and the milk.”
Then I seized the moment to teach them again — because I’d we’d taught them that before.
“When mama writes instructions about what you should eat on the board, she intends for you to have that available to eat if you are hungry. You don’t have to continue eating when you are hungry. In fact, that’s not good for you.
You should eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full, comfortably full and not stuffed. Do you understand?”
“Yes”. They responded.
Then I went on to have them repeat that a couple of times to me: “You eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full.”
1/3 of Americans are obese. Obesity is on the rise among children and adults. We are products of our upbringing. Our poor eating habits are the result of bad eating habits and beliefs systems that are formed during childhood and propagated in our adulthood.
In this case, my boys were going to overeat not because they were hungry, but because they thought their mother wanted them to eat it. Obviously, it wasn’t Ellen’s intention for them to over eat.
This kind of thing happens all the time with parents wanting children to finish everything on their plate etc.
One of my favorite quotes is:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” King Solomon
I am passionate about helping people to transform their eating habits and start eating themselves to health. I’m especially passionate about helping parents train their children to become what I call “Slim Eaters”, people who have healthy eating habits that will serve them their whole lives. If you want to continue to learn, subscribe to my website.