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Early Eating Habits that Shape you Today

None of us choose to be fat. As a child, we don’t say, “I want to grow up and be large, Mommy!” It happens, often subtly and slowly. Years worth of misguided eating habits begin to settle on our hips and thighs. We ask ourselves, “What went wrong?”

“A fat-forming transformation in our eating habits takes place between the ages of three and four. You can give three-year-olds a lot of food, and they will simply eat until they are no longer hungry. They are unaffected by serving size. By age five, however, they will pretty much eat whatever they’re given. If they are given a lot, they’ll eat a lot, and it will even influence their bite size.”

(Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating)

This can be a problem with meals, of course, but extends into snacking as well. Children think in terms of what they see. If more is available, then why not eat it? (And yes, this applies to adults as well!)

“Suppose you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a snack and give your child half of it. Is the serving size half the sandwich? Not if the other half of the sandwich is still sitting on the counter.”

(Brian Wansink, Mindless Eating)

So if a child (or yourself) thinks in terms of consuming the entirety of something – whether if be a “king-size” candy bar or a bag of Doritos, what can you do to remind yourself that a serving size is what you decide, not the manufacturer?

Wansink suggests the “Baggie trick.” When we decide on a healthful serving and stick it in a Baggie or a small Tupperware container, the question of serving size has already been answered. The amount you consume is in the Baggie, not in an oversized box or container that encourages overeating simply because it’s there.