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Goldilocks Gets it Just Right

Note: When I did the facilitator training for Am I Hungry? MIndful Eating program, when we got to the section on how much to eat and getting it just right, one of the women commented that it reminded her of Goldilocks. Since we just finished that section in my latest workshop, I thought I’d use that as a starting point for this little story. Learn more about the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program here or at

Goldilocks’s parents dropped her off for lunch a few minutes before noon at the quaint cottage in the woods where her new friend Bera Baird lived. She knocked at the door, excited to see her friend, and also looking forward to lunch, since her stomach was already growling.

The door opened, and Goldilocks smiled at Bera, a girl about her own age with brown hair, brown eyes, dimples in her cheeks and arms and legs, and a warm smile. “Come in,” she said. “We can go in the kitchen, but we have to wait a few minutes for lunch.”

Goldilocks sniffed at the aromas eagerly. “Is it still cooking?”

“No.” Bera hesitated in the hallway, looking around. Then she dropped her voice to say, “My mom is a little weird about food sometimes. We have to eat right at noon, and she’s really fussy about what she eats. So don’t say anything, okay?”


They went into the kitchen, where Bera’s father was already seated at the table. He was a huge man in every way, his stomach pushing against the edge and his head considerably higher than Goldilocks even sitting down, with brown curly hair and a thick, bushy beard. “You must be Goldilocks,” he rumbled, his dark eyes twinkling at them. “Glad you could join us.”

“Thank you for having me.”

Then she looked to where Mrs. Baird was at the counter, a woman so skinny that Goldilocks wondered how she could even stand up; it seemed a sharp gust would blow her over. The woman spared them a glance and quick, automatic smile. “Hello, girls,” she said. “Lunch will be ready at noon.”

Goldilocks glanced at the clock. Nine more minutes. Her stomach growled again, and she clasped her hands over it in embarrassment. She didn’t know what to say, and so she watched as Mrs. Baird filled the plates with baked chicken, rice, broccoli with cheese and green beans, but in very different ways.

On the first plate, she piled food on top of each other, so that it was balanced precisely but precariously and almost overflowing. For the second plate, she started by scooping rice into a tiny measuring cup before adding it. Then she cut a sliver of chicken, put it on a scale, frowned, and whittled it down a bit more. Finally she counted out the number of green beans and broccoli pieces and added them without any cheese. Goldilocks had heard about such behavior but never witnessed it, and she tried not to stare in fascination, remembering Bera’s comment. Mrs. Baird filled the third plate more naturally, adding enough food to mostly fill it but without weighing, measuring or counting.

That left just one plate empty, and two minutes to go. Mrs. Baird turned to Goldilocks. “How much would you like?”

The girl considered. “I think the first plate would be too much, and the second one too little, but the third one looks just right.”

Mrs. Baird nodded and with quick efficiency served the food. “Go ahead and sit down.”

She set their plates down in front of them, and they all took their seats just as the clock turned to twelve. Goldilocks carefully waited until Mr. Baird tucked into his overflowing dish, and Mrs. Baird cut her food with mechanical precision, before starting on her own. She and Bera talked a little as they ate, about school and homework and vacations, but Goldilocks also enjoyed the meal. The chicken was nice and juicy, the rice cooked well and pleasantly spiced, and the vegetables tender but not mushy, just the way she liked.

She paused to look at her friend’s mother. “Thank you for the food, Mrs. Baird. It’s very good.”

“Is it?” The woman looked down at her now-empty plate in surprise. “I suppose so.”

Goldilocks turned back to her food but found that her eyes had been bigger than her stomach. She still had a little left, but she was full. She glanced at Bera, who also had a left a tiny bit of rice. Bera asked, “Mom, may we be excused?”

Mrs. Baird looked at their plates. “You’re not going to finish?” she asked in surprise.

“I’m full,” Goldilocks admitted. “But it really was very good.”

“What are you girls going to do?” she asked, eyeing the leftovers hungrily.

Bera said, “I was going to take her out to the woods to play.”

“Better you than me,” Mr. Baird said, stretching and yawning hugely. “It’s nap time for me.” Goldilocks looked at his plate in amazement, cleaned of all except for a few green specks of broccoli. “But you have fun.”

He left, but the girls helped clear the table first. As Mrs. Baird loaded the dishwasher, she paused over the few leftovers, murmuring, “The chicken was 150, the rice 100, green beans 20, broccoli 40, so that’s 310, which means I can have this, or have a 90 calorie snack later, or maybe both if I exercise enough, or if - “

“Come on,” Bera said, tugging her hand.

As they went outside, Goldilocks asked, “What was she doing?”

Bera rolled her eyes. “Counting calories. She does it all the time.” Seeing her friend’s expression, she shrugged. “I don’t understand it, either. And I don’t know why Dad has to sleep all the time and never wants to play.”

“Well, I do,” Goldilocks said. “I feel great, and I’m excited to see the forest.”

“Me, too,” Bera said, and they wandered off to play.

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