3.2 Important Developmental Milestones

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Early cognitive concepts that relate directly to lifelong eating habits and weight control are delay of gratification, self-regulation and “enough.” From the perspective of eating and early development, delay of gratification begins with parental influences. An example of this is when a mother shifts from feeding on demand to more robust yet less frequent feeding schedule. Delay of gratification is essential to learning self-regulation. When parents regulate feeding times and control portion size, this helps a child develop a learned awareness of self-regulated eating behavior. They’ll eat what they need to have enough energy to make it to the next feeding. If they don’t eat enough; they become hungry and irritable. If they overeat, or eat too quickly they’ll likely burp most of it back up (becoming even more hungry and irritable).

 Recognition: How do you struggle with self-regulation when it comes to quantity / quality of food?

What are some of your early memories of soothing “comfort” foods? 

Exposure to different environments is important during childhood as it can encourage the development of tolerance, and more importantly, resilience. Increased tolerance results in less dramatic responses to routine sensory inputs and can reduce the incidence and magnitude of depressive disorders. Revisit the concept of “enough” briefly discussed in Chapter 1. When it comes to food…to lose weight we’ll likely have to look at our patterns of eating and snacking, portion sizes and improve the quality of our diet. If this isn’t something that we were taught early in life, we have the challenge of retraining our brain. This is the first R. Recognition: We develop this by learning what we need and what’s good for us.

Resistance: We develop this by regulating content and portion sizes. Describe your current concept of “enough”.

From a global perspective, most cultures endorse the notion that good behavior or the achievement of goals should be rewarded with treats. For many, this might involve a trip to get ice cream, candy, or dine at a favorite food establishment. From a learning perspective however, this introduces the concept of secondary reward reinforcement.

We don’t just eat sugar or high-fat foods when we’re low on energy or unhappy, we also consume them to celebrate when things are going well.

We’ve accepted the premise that even when we feel happy, we can (or should) do something that will make us feel even better. It’s this mood-altering drive that can ultimately lead to the unhealthy use, dependence, and addiction to processed foods and other substances [20].

 Recognition: How do you typically reward yourself? 



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