Much to the chagrin of my daughter I am a fan of South Park! Lately I have felt like Butter’s character, “General Disarray”; we are uprooting and moving to a new state. I have had to say goodbye to my clients, friends and colleagues, wrap up one household and begin the daunting task of setting up not only a new home, but establish my practice in a new community.
While living in general disarray, there is one routine that brings me energy, comfort and a sense of structure; I eat like an infant.
Yep, you read right, I eat like an infant. No, not pureed foods and tiny amounts, but listening to my biological cues like an infant listens to their body. Infants aren’t influenced by TV, magazines or any of the other million things that influence our intake - they only have their biological cues to tell them if they are hungry or full!
So How Do Infants Eat?
An infant normally eats within an hour of waking up and then eats at relatively routine times during the day. The infant’s body is acutely aware that it runs 24/7 and that the vast majority of its fuel needs are simply to exist; for all organs and body processes to function adequately. Therefore, when an infant eats, they eat about the same amount of food at each mealtime to fuel all the ongoing body functions.
Some days they may eat more, some days they may eat less. This is what most people forget; that roughly 60-75% of our fuel needs are simply to exist. Bottom line, the body needs adequate fuel on a routine basis to function at its best, hence eating like an infant.
Eating like an infant, I usually try to eat about the same amount at around the same time each day. To assure I provide my miraculous body all the nutrients it needs, when I have a meal, no matter what the meal is, I make sure I have at least 1-2 servings from each of 4 food groups.
The food groups I use are:
1.fruits or veggies,
2. grains or starches,
3. essential fats and
4. dairy or proteins.
A meal may be a simple parfait of yogurt, granola, blueberries and walnuts—all 4 groups in one food or it may be a burger on a bun, chips, and fruit salad. And just like an infant, depending upon my activity I may eat more or less in a given day.
Your insides never rest or take a break so treat your body with gentleness and gratitude. For the next week, practice eating like an infant; eat about the same time and about the same amount of food at meals. To assure your body receives all the different nutrients it needs, you may want to incorporate the 4 food groups at each meal. Take this next week to marvel at how a routinely fueled body feels and functions for you.
Sue Clarahan RD, LD
Sue Clarahan, RD, LD has been blending her passion for nutrition with a practical and sensible approach to educating clients for almost 30 years. She is committed to helping clients enjoy the rewards of a positive relationship between food and their bodies.