The Simple Secret a Baby Can Teach You About Eating

baby holding iphone

My iPhone was always running out of storage and this message became all too familiar: “Storage almost full. You can manage your storage in settings.”

Even after offloading storage-hogging videos and photos I still had a problem. A call to Apple support gave me the solution. Not a fun one.

The best resolution was to erase all and reset the phone to factory settings. Whoa.

That got me thinking about babies…

What babies can teach us about eating

If only people could be restored to their factory settings – like do a hunger reset. If we could restore our hunger and fullness center to when we were babies. Think about refusing to eat

A baby is hungry. What does she do? Cries, right? She signals to mom and dad it’s time. “Feed me please I’m hungry.” Baby gets fed. What does she do when she’s had enough? She stops. She pushes away, “Thanks mom, I’ve had enough.”

What if we could do a hunger reset?

What happens to us though? Why can’t we get the message we’ve had enough? Imagine if mom ignored her baby’s signal. “No sweet child you are going to eat more – I made this bottle for you and you have not finished it. Drink. Drink. Drink.”

We overeat for a multitude of reasons – availability, convenience, highly manufactured hard-to-resist food-like substances, portions, environment, conditioning, genetics. We live in an environment where we’re conditioned to overeat. And yes, we overeat because we override the sense of fullness/satisfaction.

How we eat in America

How do we eat in America? In the car. On the go. Standing up. Sitting down. Grab this. Grab that. We are lucky to even know what we’re eating. Maintaining a healthy weight is tough, really tough. Not gaining weight over the course of life is even tougher for many – especially when food is everywhere. Everywhere. We can’t get away from it.

If we could do a factory reset, a hunger reset – eat when hungry, stop when we’ve had enough – it would help. Is that the only reason some struggle with weight? Of course not, but…

By paying attention to hunger and knowing when to stop there really is no food off-limits. It takes away the good food/bad food mentality.

One of the most important things my clients work on when we begin our coaching relationship is to honor hunger and fullness. It’s one of the best ways to break away from the diet mentality. My clients use my hunger/fullness scale – read about it here.

It’s not only what you eat, but it’s also how you eat

If you want to build healthy food habits, you want to evaluate how you eat, when you eat, with whom you eat, and why you eat.

  • Is the presence of others affecting how much or how little you eat?
    • Does social pressure affect your food decisions?
    • Are you overriding feelings of hunger and fullness to fit in?
    • Do your social interactions lead to increased food intake?Are you conforming to others because you’re afraid to go against the norm?
  • Is your environment influencing your habits?
    • Do factors in your environment override your hunger hormone regulation?
    • Are you setting your environment for success – to help you manage your health?
    • Are you eating as a family around the table or is it always grab and go?
    • Is the availability and convenience of food playing a role in your choices? The presence of foods can override not being hungry.
  • Are you eating when you’re not hungry?
    • Are you eating because you’re bored, emotional, or hangry? (anger disguised as hunger)
    • Is food your default for coping with uncomfortable feelings?
    • Are your food choices influenced by emotions (e.g., happiness, boredom, sad, angry, or disappointment)?
    • Are you paying attention to and evaluating your level of hunger and fullness/satisfaction?
  • Are you eating mindfully and really savoring your food?
    • Are you chewing well and eating more slowly?
    • Are you savoring your food?

      There are many things influencing how we eat.

      What behaviors are you willing to change or new habits are you ready to start? Tiny steps move us forward to making the change to where we want to be.

      Are you ready to restore to factory settings?

      Let me help you navigate this challenging landscape.
      Read more about my coaching approach
      or book your no-obligation free call here.

      Image credits: Pixababy, Dreamstime, and Unsplash

      Jennifer “Neily” Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
      Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach

      Related content: 

      YOU are Enough! Ditch the Diet

      7 Secrets to Self-Care You Need During This Time of COVID and Quarantine


    1. hatice alsancak

      unfortunately i am also eating when I feel hungry and I do not consider what to eat

      • Neily

        Do you mean to say you’re also eating when you DON’T feel hungry? If that’s what you mean then consider what you’ll eat for the next 24 hours. That’s it. No need to plan beyond that. Good luck!

    2. Morgan Loyd

      I wish that we could reset our hunger habits! I would make maintaining our weight easier, in my own opinion.

      • Neily

        No doubt Morgan! However, it CAN be done with practice. Many of my clients attest to that.

    3. Hamza Ahmed

      Good analysis

    4. Rachel Cassil Abbott

      I found this author, Geneen Roth by recommendation of a friend a long time ago. Her books were centered around this idea that we should listen to our bodies and what it wants to eat. When she was detoxing from dieting she let herself eat what she wanted until she was full. I feel like that is similar to the idea here. If we slowed down enough to listen to our bodies, maybe we wouldn’t have the over-eating issues that faces America today.

      • Neily

        Yes, Geneen Roth does have similar thoughts re: eating, etc. Thanks for your comment!

    5. luel moges

      I always eat when I get hungry now by the time I’m actually supposed to eat. I am trying to stop this bad habit. I tried meal prepping, but it’s not going well.

      • Neily

        Meal prepping is a challenge for some. But try keeping things super simple!

    6. Stephanie G

      Evaluating how you eat, when you eat, with whom you eat, and why you eat can be helpful in letting you know your good and bad habits of eating foods.

      • Neily

        Yes it can Stephanie! Thanks for your comment.

    7. Martha R

      I love this perspective and found it to be especially relevant as mom of a young infant myself. Will keep this in mind moving forward!

      • Neily

        It’s a terrific perspective to have Martha!


    Submit a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *