Mindful eating (Tornado guest post).

Allow myself to…preempt myself.

The plan for today was to share my muzings on my first run in the Vibram FiveFingers.

The post was thisclose to finished when I took a bloggin’break to have some breakfast with the Tornado.

As I watched her eat (indeed the food-stuffs displayed above) & we chatted not only was I reminded of our Mindful Eating podcast—but a few other thoughts gathered & stuck in my misfit mind.

As a result, we’ll talk running at a later date & I present you with:

Five Mindful Eating Tips as furnished unknowingly by the Tornado.

Really take time to assess your hunger. REALLY.

Lately, when I ask her if she’s hungry there’s a longass lag before she responds.

I wont lie to you either—-many, many times the aforementioned lag annoys me.

I find myself longing to say: “Make up your mind!” or the ever notsonice “It’s not that hard of a question!  Are you hungry?!”

It occurred to me, however, as I watched her decide if she wanted cold pizza or not, she seems to have a check list she goes through in her head.

She really is DECIDING if she’s tired, bored, hungry, whatevs *before* she answers my question.

Duly noted.

I could learn a few things from her slowslow response.

Be selective.

As a mom it’s my job to encourage her to try new foods.  I offer & encourage  and, should she not like a food at first encounter, I always proffer it at least one more time.

That said, Ive noticed that she doesnt eat what she doesnt like.

While this used to annoy me greatly, Im choosing to view it in a different light.

When viewed through the lens of mindful eating she’s simply being selective.

I can think of many times Ive eaten what I knew I didnt adore (hello lemon cake!) & not only did I not enjoy it—I ended up eating what I do like (greetings brownies) anyway.

In addition.

Being selective mightcould be a good thing.

EMBRACE your food…literally.

Ahh age four.

It’s not enough to simply eat and be done with it.  She touches, smells, mashes, tastes, envelopes every morsel which goes into her pizza-hole mouth.

This, like her drawn out answer to are you hungry, used to be a MizFit-crazy maker.

Now I view it as being more present than I could ever hope to be while eating.

Now I view it as virtually the definition of mindful eating.

Parties or special occasions are about far more than food.

Before we head to a birthday party for one of her peers the Tornado is filled with questions about the cake.

What it will look like.  Whether it will be cakecake, ice cream cake, or cup cakes.  What flavor it will be.

The list of questions go on and on.

Until we get to the party.

Once the fun begins—whatever the fun for that soiree is—the cake is entirely forgotten.

So much so she typically takes one bite & abandons the confection entirely in favor of frolicking with friends.

It’s all a great reminder that parties, holidays, & special events need not be about the food but about the socializing.

Time with friends (heck not having to prepare the food myself/clean up is a huge treat—no matter what Im eating) can be just as decadent a treat or indulgence.

Eating as a family ROCKS.

I could quote statistics here but we all know how important family meals are.

Any meals, in my opinion.

Right now we are more family breakfasts than dinners and that’s ok.

While she doesn’t mind when she’s the only one eating (hello dinner at 5pm!) she clearly prefers the three of us at the table & no other distractions around.

So there you have it, Oh Patient Readers.

Nary a running mention & myriad meandering musings all gleaned from a four year old mind.

Whats your biggest mindful eating tip?

Have you watched others (from kids to friends to strangers) as they eat and picked up some tips along the way as well?

Please to hit us all up in the comments.


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  1. says

    My own 4 year old drives me “batsh*t crazy” sometimes with food (most recently with his whole belief that “veggies are uck” — in spite of his own admission that they’re good for him and will make him grow up big and strong). BUT I have learned a whole bunch from him:

    – “Breakfast” foods shouldn’t be limited to morning and “dinner” foods shouldn’t be limited to night. Pancakes for dinner and cheeseburgers for breakfast are fine if that’s what you want.

    – Snack foods can make a meal. One of his favorite plates is actually a 4-compartment appetizer tray that tends to get filled with cheese, fruit, some kind of protein (rolled up deli meat or pepperoni or cocktail sausage thingies) and a “treat” (typically either a handful of popcorn or pretzel sticks). There’s never any “Please eat, John” coming from me when this is the menu.

    – Know when it’s thirst and not hunger. He’s got to be the most hydrated person I know because he always seems to know the difference. “Would you like a snack, sweetie?” “Yes, Momma! Water-juice!” (which is what he calls the flavored water we always seem to have on hand) Tom often worries that he drinks so much that he’ll ruin his appetite … but it never happens.

  2. says

    i observed this in my little sister yesterday, but the opposite. she is really struggling with her weight these days, and one things i’ve noticed she does is pick at food.

    she barely puts anything on her own plate, but she eats off everyone elses’ plate and picks out of the bowls that are set in front of her. i wish i could help her – if she would just put what would satisfy her on her own plate, i think she would be much happier!

    but alas, this is when mindful eating comes it. it’s a hard life-lesson to learn.

    – rebekah

  3. Meredith says

    Oh the food embracing is a crazy maker for me Miz.
    My sons mess with everything and then eventually it all makes its way to their mouth.

    I needed this :)

  4. says

    I just love this post. It goes along with the whole notion ‘I learned everything that I know in Kindergarten’. I think that is demonstrates that food is food. It isn’t wrapped up in emotion, it isn’t drenched in stress, it isn’t the ONLY time in the day when we unwind, it’s not a coping mechanism. It’s just is food, it’s appreciated, examined and eaten for the fuel that our bodies need.

    I think the one thing that I am learning is getting over the ‘need’ to eat at a certain time, feeling like I am going to NOT have food (which is silly), and appreciating my food. At least stopping to sit down to eat and not stand or try not to eat in front of my computer. Eating has become a pass time, instead of an active time. When we make eating active…we tend to be more intuitive.

    p.s. cold pizza is amazing

  5. Nan says

    This post made me smile and think again how much I love when you tackle topics that are not 100% fitness.

    I know that I screwed up my head when I was a child with the eating thing.

    I lost my trust around age seven and I’ve yet to reclaim it (Im 47).
    It makes intellectual sense to listen to my body but I can not trust the messages it sends me any longer.

    I am trying though because I need to know I can rely on ME.

    Great post.


  6. says

    It was a wake up moment when you wrote a while ago about the fact that you sometimes eat the same foods out as you might at home—you just celebrate you aren’t cooking or cleaning!

    I can’t remember if that was here or on a podcast but every time I eat out I thnk of you.

    Is that weird? lol

  7. messymimi says

    As a mom, you learn more from your kids than you ever imagined you would.

    I watched all of mine go through these things, too. I let them experiment, and find their own way. They all eat their veggies and fruits and their weight is in proportion.

  8. says

    That’s one smart cookie you have there! (wait…should I really be talking cookies as I’m thinking breakfast!)

    The family mealtime is a big one for us. With our kids getting older (and more into other things) – this can sometimes be a challenge. Still, I think we do pretty good (and sometimes it becomes a game itself!).

    Awesome wisdom from the Tornado!

  9. Bea says

    My sons already whine when I turn off the television and inform them it is time to eat as a family and not in front of the TV.

    Can you send the Tornado over for a few lessons?

  10. says

    I can tell when my boys in particular are going through a growth spurt they literally eat all day! But you know what they need to…I have noted a growth of an inch in a week at times with the both of them and the body NEEDS that fuel.

    My daughter too gets that way, but not on a grand scale and I am enjoying the process with all 3 of them changing what they go for…via example I am trying to set for them.

  11. says

    I love the mental image of the birthday party and the abandoned cake. That is absolutely true of children that age. I wonder what happens to some of us that get the wiring so messed up and what it really takes to get it back again.

    I do believe that a lot of the wiring is just habit and that rewiring ourselves to go through the Tornado’s checklist before eating is important.

    Great post!

  12. says

    My husband and I have very often lamented that we wish we ate more like our kids. (20 and 17) They indeed only eat when they are hungry. Why interrupt a video game marathon just because the clock says it is lunch time! They also seem to stop eating when they are full. Novel idea. They didn’t learn that from me! Now if only I could get them to eat some vegetables!!

  13. says

    I don’t comment too often, but I have to tell you that this is a great post! When it comes to mindful/intuitive eating, children are often our best role models.

    I would add that children are great examples of how to honor your cravings because they don’t plan out their food in advance. They wait until they’re hungry and THEN decide (quite selectively, as you mentioned) what they want based on their cravings at the moment. We adults do a whole lot more planning (granted, often out of necessity), but that makes it harder to be attuned to what our bodies want and need at any given moment.

    Re-tweeting this post for sure!

  14. says

    It is amazing how much kids can teach US! I try to evaluate my foods the way tornado does- is this something that I enjoy enough/am I hungry enough…but ya know, sometimes our minds do get the best of us 😉 Family meals are incredibly important. Growing up, my mom tried to make sure we ate dinner together every night (when possible). I really valued that time. Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend

  15. Evan says

    It doesn’t bother me when posts are about losing weight (or as another commenter put it the other day losing our asses ;)) yet I find I nod more in agreement when the posts are about things like this or your lucky post.

    This is all really universal and I’m not a dad yet.

    If only there were more games when we have office birthday cake!

  16. Bette says

    Is that pizza homemade? 😉

    YES! if my “homemade” you mean purchased at a local purveyor of pizza and blotted at home to remove excess oilcrap” —-which Im confident you do :)

  17. Nia says

    What a great post. Wish my parents were this “in-tune” with children at that age… maybe I would not have a disordered view of food today :( I hope to keep this post in mind when I have kids in the future :)

  18. Katie says

    This should be required parent reading.

    I’m not sure all my daughters habits are healthy ones (she love skittles and left to her choosing would only eat those ;)) but there are many I could learn from.

    Fantastic post, Miz.

  19. says

    Love this post. My nephew refuses to eat anything except fruits and veggies- which seems opposite of most children!

  20. MizFit says

    thanks for all your kind words on this post already.

    I laugh that in writing it I rediscovered a blog post in drafts from when she was TWO entitled:


    Two and a half years later not much has changed…

  21. says

    Awesome observations! From watching kids, I picked up on that whole “a bite or two is enough” thing, kind of like the little princess and the birthday cake.

  22. says

    I’ve watched my daughter eat for 25 years and i’m still learning from her.
    She will buy a high quality ice cream, then proceed to take maybe two spoonfuls, say how good it is and put the rest back in the freezer. She may forget about it for a couple of days and then she’ll have another 2 spoonfuls :)
    I’ve also watched here have something very sweet and finish only a 1/4 because it’s so sweet!! Not something i do.
    She used to never like veggies. But she’s slowly becoming a veggie lover, especially if they’re roasted.
    I really need to watch her more :)

  23. says

    I think what I love the most is that you’ve modified your response to her taking the time to decide whether or not she’s hungry and to the fact that she knows what she does and doesn’t like. Can we turn back time and teach my mother this? 😉

    And that leads me to my tip: trust your *self*. Get quiet and listen. You have everything you need, right inside yourself. Don’t be distracted by what “they” say or do.

  24. says

    I LOVE this post!!! Yes, kids can teach us so much about eating. And it’s so important to let them do what they need to do… I have to admit that I let the teenager explore his food a lot less than the toddler; I was also was much more in a rush back then…

  25. says

    Love these observations! Especially the longass assessment (and reminder for mom to be patient) and the embracing her food. Need to employ these tactics more often in my life.

    Great guest post!

  26. Jen says

    At first I read this and grew irritated my own mother was not this way with me.

    I’m reframing 😉 I will be like this if I am ever blessed with children of my own.

  27. says

    This post is one of my favorites from you! Wow! I totally love it! Such wisdom from you, to recognize her natural tendencies. And to think that we browbeat those instincts out of them!

  28. says

    What I’ve learned from watching my niece and nephews is to eat the “best” bites first instead of saving them for last. Saving the best for last, one of my old habits, means you’re intending to eat ALL the food on your plate. Well what if you’re not hungry enough? Then you’ll eat it anyways to get to the “best” stuff you’ve saved. Eating the best morsels first means you aren’t compelled to keep eating when your body does, indeed, tell you to stop.

    I’ve also learned that all the playingfrolickingdoingeverythingbuteatingyourdinner thing that kids do, which can be quite annoying, allows their stomach to catch up to their mouths, so they can actually TELL that they are full. Often we (me!) eat so fast that we still *think* we’re hungry, only because the time lapse between shoving food into our pie-hole and said food hitting our stomach, allowing the stopfreakingeating signal to get to our brain as a feeling of “I’m full”. When really, we’re not hungry anymore. We just don’t know it yet.

    GREAT post! Love the Tornado.

  29. says

    I love this post!!! We really can learn so much from the way our kids eat…before we get to them! My oldest daughter clearly eats mindfully and intuitively. I am in awe of her. I can dangle her favorite cookie/cake/fruit/whatever in front of her and no matter how fabulous it is, if she is not hungry, she will not eat it. Amazement. I so want to bottle it up and down it for myself!! I am doing my best to nurture this part of her. I don’t want to damage this innate quality she has. (i.e. continue the food pushing tradition of our family). It’s a beautiful thing 😀

  30. says

    What an awesome post & out of the mouths & actions of kids, right!!!! :-) Love it!

    Mindful eating tip: Like you said Miz, if you really don’t want it, why are you eating it. Make sure you really want it & are actually hungry for something. Don’t jus eat “because”.

    As for kid learning: I see it from the crazy kids.. They STOP when they are done & full. They don’t keep eating just because it is there.. with cake or anything else!

  31. says

    LOVE this! We can all learn a lot from the Tornado.

    The boyfriend had to go away to do fieldwork for 10 days recently, so I found myself having a lot of meals by myself. I think there were only three times when I sat down WITHOUT A BOOK and WAS NOT IN FRONT OF THE COMPUTER, and ate my meal without doing ANYTHING else.

    It was amazing. I did it after hearing the podcast when Shauna mentioned eating a salad at the table by herself. It really does make you realize so much about the way we shovel food into our mouths without thinking about it at all.

    So that’s my tip: at least ONCE, just sit down and eat – sloooowwwlllyyy – by yourself, without any distractions. It’s surprisingly difficult to do. But it certainly prompts some serious thinking.

  32. says

    This was a great post – and I see bits and pieces of myself in most of the comments too. :)

    I learned about intuitive eating from my dog. She always drinks her water, but she can go a day without eating if we don’t go on a run for a couple days. And she (unlike most dogs) is picky; when we offer her a dry stale ol’ milk-bone, she politely sniffs it, wags her tail and walks off. If there is a treat she DOES like, she takes it very carefully, carries it into her favorite comfy pillow spot, lays down and turns eating it into a production.

    She’s a very, very strange dog, I admit, but she’s strong and fast and skinny and happy most of the time – and since I want to be all of those things, I can’t be to critical.

  33. says

    First of all I LOVE that you call your kid the tornado. Applies to both my kids. The wisdom of observing a 4yo with food is great. We haev lots of food issues here that we are battling with my 6yo. Allergies – soy, wheat, beans, etc and texture isues. Lets just say mnay times I feel liek throwing in the towel. The number one thing I wanted to aviod was the clean your plate. Mr. has respected my desire and I truly can see how my 6yo has control over his appitite. I am fine if he only takes 2 bites of cake at a party. I believe in allowing the bad stuff so that your child can understnad what moderation is.

  34. says

    I’ve noticed this with my kids–especially #2 (who will be 5 in a couple weeks). He will eat heartily when he is hungry but if he’s just not that hungry he’ll just have a little bit of whatever is on his plate (even something he likes) and then decide he’s done. I restrain myself from making him clean his plate like my parents used to make me do. He’s also actually pretty good about trying new things, too. There is plenty he doesn’t like, but he’ll at least give it a try. He’s very much an intuitive eater.

  35. Liz says

    I rarely comment but had to.
    This post rocks and not only because it was a surprise Sunday treat 😉

    I’m 7mths pregnant and printed it.


  36. says

    Ah the wee ones. They can teach us so much that we forget as we grow older.

    Mindful tip I have been practicing this week? Realize that every single thing you eat at some pointed was touched by a human hand, whether that was a farmer tilling the soil to get ready or a ranch hand attending the birth of a new calf to harvesting of a vanilla bean in some steamy jungle. Even if the end product is mass handled in the end, a person was at the very, very beginning.

  37. says

    It’s amazing what we can learn from our little ones, isn’t it? She’s such a doll. Tell her thanks for the wonderful reminders that we should all be following before we eat!

  38. says

    I’ve learned a lot from my husband, actually. What I once thought of as picky, is him being particular. What I once thought was wasteful, is him deciding he’s had enough. What I once thought was incredibly stupid (passing by a plate of cookies), is him waiting for the right time for said cookies. Need I say that he is slim, trim, and healthy? I regret that it took me 14 years before the scales fell from my eyes, but I’m learning to watch more carefully now.

  39. says

    I’m glad that you preempted yourself; great post. Um, not that the other one would not have been great. :)

    My biggest mindful eating tip is to eat slow and savor your food. Actually, I’ve been eating slow since I was a kid because people were always trying to make me eat stuff that I didn’t want to and I needed time to dispose of the offensive matter…

  40. says

    I noticed with my cousins and church kids that if you make food fun they are more likely to eat it. So if they are making their own hummus or healthy pizza’s they’ll eat it more instead of just putting food in front of their face. Cooking is half the fun.

  41. says

    Kids are so wonderfully intuitive about their bodies and their hunger.

    My favorite tip from the Tornado is that social events are about more than just food! The connections, conversation, meeting new people — that’s what will last. A brownie or a slice of pizza will not “last.”

  42. addy says

    Ya the whole “clean your plate there are starving kids in (insert third world country here)” has never been used to make someone clean their plate in my house. I love that we can still learn from our kids. AND Cold Pizza for breakfast rocks! One of my favorites.

  43. says

    I really love this post and can learn so much from her cues. I really need to start being more mindful about what I’m eating. I especially like the part about cupcakes and parties, ’cause there is nothing that can distract me from a good cupcake.

  44. says

    Oh the wisdom of children! I loved this post. It is a great reminder that things don’t need to be complicated. We were born with the natural desire to eat well. Somewhere along the line we were trained to leave that all behind and look where that got us!

  45. Lynda says

    Thank you for this post as today was a crazymaker :) with my sons.

    I hadn’t ever stopped to consider their slow responses could be a “check list” thing.

    Interesting idea to consider.

  46. says

    What a great perspective on mindful eating! And what a beautiful way to shift the thought around what could be a bit annoying at times:)

  47. says

    I love this post. As I sat reading it I tried to think back to when I learned to inhale my food, because it was learned, like Tornado I used to pick and play. When I learned to eat things I didn’t like, and not the good for you things some of our parents forced us to eat, kudos for not forcing it on her. Thank you Tornado for sharing your 4 year old wisdom with those of us who have forgotten it :)

  48. says

    WOW!!! You, My Friend, have A GIFT!!!!!! Thank you and mini you for this post!!! You KNOW this is what I’m in need of right now!! I plan to listen to the podcast on the way to Arcadia tomorrow!!! Thank you for EVERYTHING!!!!!!! *Hugs*

  49. Terrie says

    As others said I think this is one of my favorite posts too.

    For me it is the information and the fact that you are so PRESENT with your Tornado.

    You care enough to watch her and really see her.

    We all need moms like that.

  50. Liza says

    I commented already and wanted to add this made me consider the fact its never too late to go back and relearn what I did not as a child.

    Thanks Miz.

  51. says

    AWESOME post, Miz! I am planning on writing a post about the way children eat soon because I really think that before well-meaning parents come along, we really do know how to eat without any other guidance.

  52. says

    I. Love. This.

    I can learn the same thing from my healthy living dog…

    lots of water. eats when hungry. loves treats in moderation. plays well with others. sleeps (a lot).

  53. Ren Man says

    Not sure where my insistence on taking the Tornado to Howdy Donuts every Saturday morning fits into this whole “mindful eating” thing… I think its just an excuse for me to get a donut…

  54. says

    Ahhh, the lovely Tornado. Interestingly, I have to eat MORE mindfully after a hard core cardio session. If I eat the wrong thing, or eat to much or too little, or eat too close together…..I’m hogwash. My post cardio refueling beast is so dang picky.

    And I think your word “mightcould” should be added to the dictionaries. All of them.

  55. says

    Out of the mouths of babes…great post!

    I think what I try to do is slow down my eating pace. I put the fork down. Talk with friends if I’m at the work lunch room or if I am by myself at home relax as I eat. I try to make the meal last about 20 minutes giving my tummy time to feel full.

  56. says

    I want to comment on this because it is something I have been thinking about lately, but my brain is too scrambled to put together anything coherent at the moment. Suffice it to say – I agree, The Tornado has got it right.

  57. Allison says

    When my kids eat any meal, they just sit at the table and eat. I have never let them eat in front of the tv and my daughter can’t read yet, so there is nothing else going on. Just talking to me or each other and paying attention to their food. I could learn alot from that because unless it is a family dinner, I tend to want the newspaper, a magazine, my iphone in front of me. If they aren’t home, I will turn on the tv. They know how to just sit and eat mindfully. I love this post because I hadn’t really thought about that before.

  58. says

    Thank you to your darling Tornado, I needed reminding of several of these.
    My 5 year old says “full, but not real full”. When he’s done eating. It sort of just made me giggle until I really looked at what he was saying to me. He’s satisfied, but not stuffed. Good lesson.

  59. says

    Hmmm…that’s a crazy one. I try and make a meal jsut a meal and not obsess over food, but at the same time, recognise my hunger and try to satiate it…not eat too much. Not too lottle.
    It’s hard. I like food :)
    Being aware and experiencing food as I eat it does help a lot with this though – if I find I’m just shoving food in my mouth and not tasting or enjoying it I stop. I mean, unless I’m on a long hike or in the middle of something vitally important there is no need to treat food this way. It’s a tricky thing…

  60. says

    So awesome! Thanks for sharing this with us, Tornado and Miz! :-)

    The thing I’ve noticed is how we, as a whole, eat more by the clock than by our appetites. Sometimes kids just aren’t hungry when it’s meal time; while that’s not the most convenient thing for grown-ups, in terms of food preparation or school schedule or the like, so I wonder if this is part how we lose touch with that intuitive kid sense of eating.

    On the flip side, though, I have also noticed the Things sometimes go past hungry to hangry. They’ll even tell me that they’re not hungry when they get to this state. I think this happens when we’ve gone a long time between meals and they are distracted by socializing or computer games or TV; sometimes, they just don’t want to interrupt what they’re doing to eat.

    So I guess there’s a balance to be found in there somewhere: we need to take a little time to stop and listen for hunger if we’re the type of person to get distracted into not eating. Not so much of a problem for me. :-)

  61. says

    Isn’t it amazing what our kids teach us?
    This was particularly timely in light of my recent musings about my daughter and her eating.

  62. says

    Wow! When it comes from a 4 year old it makes you wonder why we have to make everything so complicated. This also makes me wonder when things changed for me.

    Thanks for this thought-provoking treat!

  63. says

    This is an amazing post. I love it. I don’t have any kids yet but I am working on getting healthy so that I can have them (or one) and I want to teach them to eat right. I don’t want them to be like me and inhale whatever they want. I don’t remember what I ate or how I ate at age 4 but I do remember age 8 and the box of donuts.

    THANK YOU for this post, Miz. As always you’re the best.

  64. says

    I love this post!! Although I am so so very bad at mindful eating I am getting better. I’ve worked my way through pretty much the entire Geneen Roth library and it’s helped me a TON. It’s funny how we’re born with so much wisdom and manage to lose it by adulthood. I love the Tornado:)