In this lesson we are going to explore teenagers becoming overweight. In it you will learn:
If you have not done so already, make sure you have taken our FREE foundation program The Neutral Parenting Formula: A Blueprint For Raising Successful Teenagers. This will really help you get the most from this lesson otherwise some of the concepts outlined may not make sense. You can access it here for FREE through the end of 2012. After this the program will cost $997.
Take a moment to think about your relationship with food. Do you ever use it to suppress your emotions? Do you overeat because you feel empty inside? Do you use sweet foods as a way to feel good about life? Do you eat even though your stomach is full? Would you define your lifestyle as healthy and balanced?
Now ask yourself this: What type of relationship do you want your teenager to have with food and health? How do you plan on teaching them this?
With childhood obesity being at an all time high, it’s important that we take a close look at why this is happening and what exactly is going on. No parent wants to see their child become overweight, yet most of the foods kids want to eat are junk. And since many parents themselves struggle with their weight, it’s hard for kids to establish a healthy eating pattern. In this module we are going to take a closer look at how food is affecting our lives, what the root cause is, and what you can do as a parent to help your child establish a healthy lifestyle.
No matter which way you look at it, junk foods are drugs. Highly processed sugars, fried oils and salt, and the myriad of chemicals companies are putting in their food stimulates our mind and body in such a way that we become hooked. I know from first hand experience because I was addicted to sugar and sweets and it was very hard for me to get off them. Looking back I can clearly see how these foods over stimulated me in such a way that I needed more and more to get my high.
Because junk foods are the easiest drugs to get in the world, then it’s going to be imperative that you teach your child at an early age how not to get sucked into this world. These foods are so inexpensive and in high supply that it’s impossible not to come across them. If you take a look at any major grocer (even natural food chains), over 80% of the food they sell is actually not real food. What I mean by this is that they lack any proper nutritional value.
Food Is Enjoyable
When I recently chose to mainly eat raw and vegan foods, what hit me was how much society is structured around eating. Everything we do when we get together is about eating. I lived in NYC for three years and had a great opportunity to feast on some of the best foods in the world. The restaurants there are amazing and there is a cornucopia of delectable delights that can keep any foodie entertained for life.
That being said, if your child grows up associating food with pleasure, it’s much harder for them to eat healthier and find their balance. There is a saying that goes, “I eat to live, not live to eat” which has a lot of truth to it. Once again, I’m not saying that food cannot be enjoyable because it is. Events like Thanksgiving, birthdays, and other occasions are great ways for people to get together and share company with each other. The challenge is that we have associated food with pleasure instead of people with pleasure. A good friend once asked me, “Are we getting together because of food or our company?”
It’s important for you to instill in your child that while food can be enjoyable, IT’s not the reason people get together. People should be the reason that we get together.
Pleasure vs. Pain
Since food is so pleasurable, the challenge most people face is redefining what brings them pleasure. Remember, all humans are motivated by what brings them pleasure and if your child defines food as their source of pleasure versus living a healthy life, they can get stuck on this path until “something” knocks them off of it.
Emotions & Boredom
Beside the chemical addiction of foods and easy access to them, the main reason that kids become overweight is that they’re using the pleasure of food to suppress their emotions. Most kids are so bored that they’re not getting the pleasure they need from life. They use food as a way to compensate for these missing feelings. So what’s the solution?
As outlined in most of this course, you need to help your teenager find other things to bring them excitement and passion in their life. When I was a child my entire diet consisted of cookies, burgers, coke, ice cream, and so on. When I found my passion in life and became active with it, my cravings for these foods were less and less. I still remember the day I approached my mom and asked her about being healthier. It was the beginning of the end of the cycle because I began to move away from eating in this manner.
If you want to ensure that your teenager doesn’t go overboard with sweets and that they don’t become overweight, help them find their passion in life so they will spend their time on something more constructive rather then destructive. In other words, help them find the “sweet” part of their life.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Being healthy is all about lifestyle and you don’t get there through some crash diet. People tend to think when they’re overweight that they can just do some type of “program”, lose the weight, and then go back to eating how they were. This does not work and it’s why so many programs fail. The truth is, many of these advertised programs know this but won’t say it because if they told you the truth, “You need to change your entire life”, it would be too much for you to handle and you wouldn’t purchase their product or service. Look around at these items and you will see that people love “quick fixes” and items where they don’t have to invest a lot of time or effort to lose their weight (hence liposuction, lap band, diet pills, and so on).
In empowering your teen, help them to create a healthy and balanced lifestyle so that it becomes part of their normal pattern. The word “lifestyle” is just another way of saying “pattern”. It needs to be something they chose on a daily basis and not when they become overweight.
What If My Child Is Already Overweight?
If your teenager or young adult is already overweight, then you need to help them begin their healing process. There are a few core reasons as to why they’re overweight, but either way you need to be positive, supportive, and not make them feel worse or self-conscious about their challenge. The biggest mistake parent’s make when they want to help their child lose weight is to make it a big deal. This adds pressure and makes them want to hide under their covers.
Step 1 – Love Them Unconditionally & Stay Neutral
The first thing you need to do is tell them that you would love to support them however you can and that you will not force anything upon them. By letting them know that you’re there to help when they’re ready, you have shown them the open door and they must walk through it on their own. If they feel pressure it will just backfire because no one likes to be forced into anything. They need to feel like they have a neutral space in which they can explore their choices. They must choose to become healthy on their own which will be a very empowering experience for them.
When you present them with unconditional love and provide a neutral space so that they can decide for themselves when to start making changes, it will remove some of their fears and insecurities and increase the chances of them moving into a healthier direction. You must be “authentic” with your unconditional love. If there is any fear, worry, or control hiding in there, they can tell.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is that when a person who is overweight has people telling them they should lose weight, they feel vulnerable and shame. They know better than anyone else that they “let themselves go” and already live with their own shame and guilt. When you make a big deal of it or call it to their attention, it makes their negative inner dialogue even worse.
Step 2 – Lead By Example
They need to see you living a healthy and happy life. Your child needs to see that this type of life is much more pleasurable. Remember, everything we do is based upon pleasure. Right now your child has defined food as more pleasurable than life itself. When they see you living a “fulfilled” life, they will eventually follow suit.
The best way I learned how to live and eat healthy was by watching my mom. She went on to become a nutritionist and natural health practitioner and by watching her do what she did, I slowly but surely came around and followed suit. You will need to take an honest look at yourself to see if you’re doing a good job of leading by example. If not, then isn’t it time to make some changes in your life?
Step 3 – Facing Emotions
The root cause of anyone becoming overweight has to do with emotions. When we have something we do not want to look at and suppress it in our stomachs, we use food as a way to cover it up so we don’t have to look at it. To make a long lasting change in your child’s life, you’re going to need to get to the root cause of this issue and help them transform their emotional issues. This may require therapy, life coaching, or some form of interaction where he or she can address these emotions. But just know, that unless you deal with the emotions first, everything else is just a band-aid.
Step 4 – Healthy Alternatives
We live in a great time now where there are some great tasting foods that are not as bad as junk food. As outlined, the chemicals in junk food are drugs. Right now your child does have an addiction to either processed sugar or salt. You can help to wean them off slowly by finding healthy alternatives. Go into any natural market like Whole Foods and you will find a plethora of options. There are great chocolates, cookies, ice creams, pasta, and other normal junk food that has far less of the addictive substances in them.
Remember, being healthy is about mind, body, and soul. You need to approach the situation from all sides. If you need specific help with alternative foods, feel free to email me or contact your local nutritionist. We can provide a great list of alternative meals that are tasty, and healthy.
I am on a mission to help heal this planet because I truly believe that so much of the trauma and drama our society endures stems from the fact that as youth we did not learn how to address our emotions, solve our problems, and discover our authentic selves. If you find any of this material beneficial, please support this school and our message by taking the following actions below.
– Sergio Diazgranados