Eat like a baby

If there's a kids' table nearby, you might want to watch and learn.

Sure, they drool and speak in incomplete sentences. But babies are actually kind of brilliant when it comes to their eating habits. “Young children don’t experience stress-driven or emotional eating, or the influences of friends and media, “ explains Keri Glassman, RD, founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. “They also don’t know what a craving is, and they certainly can’t act on them without the help of someone else! We can learn a lot from our little friends.” Here, their top lessons:

Get back to better-movement basics and learn to Move Like A Baby.

eat only when you're hungry...

“Adults can be tone-deaf to our body’s hunger messages,” says Glassman. “We either are too busy to eat, we allow ourselves to succumb to cravings when we’re not hungry, or we learn to ignore our hunger signals in fear of gaining weight.” Problem is, not heeding your body’s cues often leads to overeating, something babies don’t often do. Why? Because they listen to their body and ask — or cry! — for food when they feel a pang. They also quit eating when they’re full — often before the plate is clean — and finish the leftovers another time.

...but don't skip meals.

“Unless they’re sick or really not hungry, babies never miss a meal. When adults skip a meal, it almost always guarantees they will overeat and slow their metabolism!” says Glassman. If your schedule is jam-packed, try to plan ahead easy-to-grab lunches and dinners for the week so you don’t have to think about it when you find yourself chained to your desk.

have snack time.

Research shows that eating every few hours stabilizes your blood sugar, and prevents you from overeating at the next meal, notes Glassman. “When you eat nutrient-dense snacks as kids do, you make better food choices throughout the day,” she says.

be picky.

Babies won’t eat just anything. (Ask any frustrated parent for proof.) They stick to favorites and avoid shoveling down food that’s just so-so. When you love what you’re eating, you’re more apt to enjoy it and feel satisfied. This keeps you happy — and hinders potential late-night pig-outs.

eat in slow motion.

When learning to eat, tots slow down and chew every bite — and we should do the same. “The more you chew your food, the less you eat.,” says Glassman. “Chewing foods slowly also increases the digestive enzymes in your mouth, which allow for better overall digestion as the food moves through your digestive tract. Taking your time will also help you recognize your ‘I’m full’ cues.”

sneak in good stuff.

Even if you can’t stand kale, you might want to incorporate it into your diet for all its nutritional benefits. Take a page from baby food makers and kids’ cookbook authors: Slip healthy ingredients into shakes, soups and salads, and surround raw veggie bites with hummus or raw nut butter.