Children and the Art of Mindful Eating: How To Cultivate a Mind-Body Connection

December 2022

By WEforum Editors


With fruitless pursuits and empty connections, the cravings only get worse, and the preoccupations become more urgent and obsessive. When we eat empty food, the consumption of food increases. I believe this tells the story of social networking. — Gordon Neufeld, Hold on To Your Kids

Dr. Gabor Maté, M.D., an author and internationally-renowned speaker on addiction, stress and childhood development, suggests that the attention children receive from their family while growing up should be considered paramount, yet they are growing up in a culture that elevates peer relationships above parental relationships and encourages the toxic and addictive, attention-seeking behaviors cultivated and promoted by digital technology. For instance, a recent study by the University of Vermont Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences determined that the bulk of the food, nutrition, and weight-related Tik Toks come from young content creators; and most of these revolve around body image, weight loss, weight ideation, and body shaming. The researchers found that although more than half of the content in their study offered advice, less than 2% originated from a registered dietitian. For parents trying to raise happy, functioning children in today’s modern world, there doesn’t seem to be a strong enough barricade to effectively regulate what enters our homes from the outside world and hijacks our children’s minds (often without our knowledge or permission).

Cultivating the art of mindfulness through eating was a sentiment that inspired a chef-psychologist husband-wife team to write a book that’s part cookbook and part life primer putting the family kitchen front and center again. Eating Together, Being Together: Recipes, Activities, and Advice from a Chef Dad and Psychologist Mom, Julian Clauss-Ehlers and Caroline Clauss-Ehlers, Ph.D. offers practical insights and activities in each chapter that connect developmentally relevant food themes to life themes. It also helps parents with busy schedules to rediscover rituals, cultivate creativity in the kitchen and enjoy cooking as a process. The book also includes fun cooking tips and activities that improve executive function while transforming simple nutrient-dense whole ingredients into something yummy.

One of the many takeaways is the authors’ rationale for not including photographs. From their point of view, cooking, like many things in life, can be an imperfect undertaking. They want you to “Make mistakes in the kitchen, learn and laugh together, and create delectables that are delicious in their flawed unveiling: a chocolate mousse that droops, cheesecake that falls over, glazed fruit and berries that are uneven in their presentation.” They continue by saying, “Social media gives our kids access to social comparison all day, every day … The sense of never measuring up leaves our kids, and us as parents, vulnerable to perfectionism intruding on our daily lives.”