Friday, January 30, 2009

What is a successful eater?

I tend to stay away from the terms "healthy eater" and "good eater" because they have so many connotations that make me a bit uncomfortable. Instead, I use the term "successful eater," but since this is not a commonly used term, I will describe what I mean. What does a "successful eater" look like? A successful eater is someone who likes eating and feels good about it. A successful eater is interested in food and likes a variety of foods. A successful eater enjoys being at the table and has fairly decent table manners most of the time. A successful eater knows when they are full or hungry based upon their own internal cues. A successful eater will try some new foods and will politely refuse foods that he or she doesn't want to eat. A successful eater can "make do" with less than favorite foods and can eat in places other than home.

I believe it's important to raise successful eaters for a number of reasons. First, variety in diet is important for children's (and adults') health and nutrition. Second, learning to recognize internal cues of hunger and fullness is important in maintaining a healthy weight. And finally, learning how to tolerate less than favorite foods and learning appropriate behaviors related to food are important in the development of positive social skills.

Hopefully we can all strive to our best to reach these (sometimes difficult and challenging) goals.