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“Even As a Little Child”
By Carolyn Allen


Although I spend my Church time each Sunday in Primary with my nine Sunbeams, the handout from a recent Relief Society lesson radiated a golden glow when it was handed to me in Sharing Time.  It’s message:  “In our search to obtain relief from the stresses of the world, may we earnestly seek to simplify our lives.”  Elder L. Tom Perry, General Conference, October 2008

Simplicity!  Say it two or three times with a deep breath and even the lilting syllables of the word itself feel like a refreshing drink of ice water on a hot summer day.

With just a few short quotes, scriptures and questions on this handout were the tools to create a happy life, and as I reflected later, a healthy life!  

Among the scriptures was the Savior’s answer to the disciples’ question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18:1)

The Savior’s tender and unforgettable reply was to simply call a little child to sit with them.  Then, with his tiny living object lesson in front of them all, he lovingly replied:

“…Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:3) 

How profound!  As a Sunbeam teacher and parent/grandparent I understand agree!  Why should we become as a little child? Because, generally speaking, their needs, wants and motivations are simple and pure.  They are easily pleased and are easily distracted from wrong choices.  Clearly, these qualities are very important requirements for eternal progress and pleasing to our Father in Heaven.


Though the Savior may not have not have been referring to how we care for our mortal bodies, it easily applies and makes a wonderful mental tool for managing our own physical appetites and desires.  Simply imagine yourself as a child (think of a favorite childhood photo) and the Savior standing with you as you eat!  There’s a healthy person inside each of us who will be delighted for the TLC of being lovingly fed as a small child. 

Smart Eating Tricks that Children Know

1.  Limited portions and sauces.  For anyone who has ever cared for a child, their nutritional needs are, for lack of a better word, simple:  Small quantities of nutritious foods, served often, without a lot of extras.  Any caregiver with any experience at all has heard an impassioned “Don’t put anything on it!” for anything from produce, to pasta to meat.  That’s good advice to us.  Kids instinctively know that simpler is better, allowing natural flavors to come through.  A sprinkle of herbs or a dash of seasoned salt is often as much enhancing as many foods need.

2. Raw or limited cooking time.   Most children are happiest with extremely simply prepared food: Cut up fresh fruit and veggies cooked just lightly or not at all.  (Our children, now grown, still prefer “pea-balls” – slightly defrosted green peas over any cooked peas.  One of my dear friends recalls her son’s first real sentence.  It was at lunchtime and as she was preparing his meal, he said “Please don’t cook it!” meaning that he liked things barely warm.)  As adults, we know that’s how these foods are the most nutritious for us.   Could this preference of children be a message from our Creator? 

3.  Stop when you’re full.  Even when it comes to treats and snack foods, children eat until their full, and then they’re done. What an example that is to us who feel duty-bound to finish every last bite of every treat offered, then start looking around for more.  I know I’m not the only mother and grandma who has been the recipient of a drippy half-eaten ice cream cone or messy half-cupcake while little ones go back to the real action:  play!  Without fail holiday candy is abandoned long before it’s gone, and it’s still a surprise to me at how very little children need to feel they’ve had a special treat.

I repeat: Can we not envision ourselves as children with the Savior’s arm about us and do the same???? 

4.  Smaller dinnerware.  When serving children, most of us use child-sized plates to make eating more user-friendly.  Those smaller plates are good for grown-ups too, making smaller, healthy-sized portions appear to fill the plate in a generous way.  The last time I bought family dishes, I searched long and hard for a set of smaller-sized dinner plates and bowls that would help all of us be wiser with portion control.  It wasn’t easy to find that set of dishes, indicative of how our aesthetic senses of what is correct has become misguided over the years.

On an activity level, There are also great lessons to learn about health and eating to live rather than living to eat on an activity level as well: 

  • As we walk to the park, they run:
  • As we sit on a bench and chat, they’re all over the playground
  • When it’s time to eat, they have to be called a dozen times, and still are too busy playing to eat;
  • When they finally do come, often little bites are all they need or want
  • Before you can turn around, they’re done and off to play and be active again!

Four More Tricks


  1. A wise parent feeds a child when they’re hungry, but not too hungry . Less food more often keeps the fire (your body/metabolism) burning. Think of our Boy Scouts and their campfires. They keep the fire burning by feeding it the right fuel often enough so that it doesn’t have to be completely restarted, which is what may happen to our metabolism when we go for longer than 3-4 hours without eating and follow the incorrect “three-meals-a-day “12:00 it’s time for lunch” rule.
  2. Moving the body is fun and play! In other words, if it ain’t fun, you’re done! If you haven’t had a chance recently, go check out the playground or a ball field be reminded of this glorious truth: The fun is in participating! If your exercise plan is not fun, or done with some company that you enjoy so that there is some level of enjoyment and satisfaction, you will not stick with it . How you exercise is something you can change to suit your life and interest with the huge range of physical activities for every level.
  3. Develop an attitude of gratitude – and observation . Our loving Heavenly Father gave us five senses, and we can use all of them when we eat to make it a lasting, satisfying experience for our body and spirit. A child is aware of every detail and will carefully examine things before they eat using all five senses.  Have you HEARD that sizzling of stir-fry veggies in a wok? Have you enjoyed the aroma of a loaded veggie taco (recipe below), as the onions, beans and veggies are cooking together and the spices are added? Have you ENJOYED THE TEXTURE of what you’re eating? I truly think that when we’re eating food as a medication for all kinds of emotional issues, we consume it with no more enjoyment than a pill quickly swallowed with water.
  4. Sitting still is a punishment .

    This one speaks for itself – it’s all in how you think about it! If sitting still is not a punishment for you, make sure you’ve got a fun project in your hands (be it needlework, or a pet to stroke) that you wouldn’t want to get food on. Of course we want to sit when we eat, so decide on those places, and use them only as eating stations.



Though most of us have acquired adult sized appetites and have, as Paul says in Corinthians 13:11 “put away childish things”  our health will be blessed as we simplify our eating habits in order to be blessed with the health, energy and vitality that we need to survive in a world that grows more complicated and stressful with every passing day.

Today’s Recipe: Loaded Veggie Tacos



1 (12-ounce) package ground beef substitute
1 (16-ounce) jar chipotle salsa
1 (16-ounce) jar fat-free spicy black bean dip
8 (10-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
1 (8-ounce) container fat-free sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package fat-free shredded Cheddar cheese
6 green onions, sliced
8 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 cups shredded leaf lettuce


Cook beef substitute and salsa in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Spread bean dip evenly over 1 side of each tortilla. Top evenly with beef substitute mixture, sour cream, and next 4 ingredients; roll up. Serve immediately.
Yield: Makes 8 servings

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 333(1% from fat); FAT 1g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g); IRON 2.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 356mg; CARBOHYDRATE 49g; SODIUM 1153mg; PROTEIN 29g; FIBER 8g


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