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Choosing What to Eat

Note: For more information on mindful eating, consider the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program. You can find more information here or at

If you open your cupboard and look at all the food you have, how do you choose what to eat?

That was the focus of the children’s piece at my church this morning, although it took a somewhat whimsical approach, considering this from the viewpoint of animals. For instance, a panda would have an easy time because they don’t have to choose what to eat. They stick with bamboo. Raccoons, on the other hand, can eat just about anything people do (and probably some things we don’t), so they have to make a choice, just like us. But how?

The kids offered some good thoughts on this decision. One said to not eat the same thing every day, so to have some variety. That makes sense to me, and it’s one of the things we talk about in the Am I Hungry? (AIH) Mindful Eating program – to get a good balance of nutrients, you don’t want to eat the same thing all the same, even if it’s healthy.

Another good point came up: “Pick what’s yummy!” I agree with that one, too. Eating what you love is important, although as the program leader pointed out, we have to be a little careful.

After all, if some of your options are chocolate and sugar, you probably don’t want to eat that all the time. That goes back to variety, but also, as the leader said, you might not feel very good if you ate too much of that, so it’s also important to pay attention to what makes your body feel good. Some sugar and chocolate might be okay (one of the other AIH suggestions is moderation), but it’s probably better to balance that out with other things.

The kids seemed perfectly okay with this idea, and I also saw a lot of heads nodding among the adults. And it got me thinking about how these messages are simple, yet we still seem to have a lot of trouble remembering them.

As the minister pointed out in her sermon, it doesn’t help that our society as a whole is out of balance with our food choices. This means that even the straightforward ideas – eat a variety of foods, choose things that taste yummy and make our bodies feel good – can get lost in the noise.

But I felt heartened to hear this lesson, and to see how well the children responded. The more they (and we adults) can remember that, and keep to those instinctive approaches to eating, the more luck we’ll have as a general culture of getting back to that place of better balance in our food choices.

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