No, this is not an article critiquing various online dating services based on common food interests! This is an article discussing dietary incompatibility among friends, parents and children and the role it plays in the success and failure of food related health issues including obesity.
Addictive food behavior is a real condition that countless numbers of people suffer from. It seems so simple for the average person to believe that this behavior is solely based on a “lack of willpower.” We underestimate how powerful the chemical and hormonal interactions in the body are. These substances can cause uncontrollable responses mirroring addictive behaviors and actions produced by cigarettes, alcohol and recreational drugs.
I have set out in search of a solution that could address this problem in a meaningful way. I have discovered that telling people to make better food choices (in and of itself) did nothing more than identify a concept most people already understood. Knowledge, therefore, was simply not enough to change behavior. I have decided to pursue an answer that addresses accountability in a POSITIVEWAY. Many people with health and weight problems already suffer from a lack of confidence and self worth; they don’t need further emotional challenges attempting to reverse their current course. Therefore, I believe that accountability among friends, parents and children already suffering health maladies including obesity might provide the missing link necessary to encourage positive changes through “support group” activity. When peers with similar problems become your supportive pillars, it reinforces the message of caring and optimism necessary to experience long term changes in behaviors and actions. I propose the following:
Health Problems Including Obesity Among Friends:
Call a friend and meal plan breakfast, lunch and dinner. Do this daily for 6-8 weeks. Meal planning should also include less nutritious food selections to make this undertaking realistic. The goal is LONG TERM health benefits and normalization of weight. Accountability will help keep each person more honest and help establish patterns of better food choices while rebalancing blood chemistries and hormones. If either person seriously contemplates deviating from the agreed upon selections for any meal, a phone call should be made to to discuss the problem with your friend. Many times venting is all that is needed to positively release emotions that trigger the unhealthy food choices we turn to.
Go for a walk. Often our best thinking is achieved in environments that stimulate our senses other than taste. A walk in a park, on a beach, in the mountains, in a neighborhood with children playing and laughing, etc… sedates hostile chemical and hormonal activities occurring inside our bodies. This helps us place our problems in better perspective and gives us (at the very least) momentary peace and happiness. It clears our minds providing “space” for better options to deal with issues and creates resolution to unnecessary eating without self destructive behavior.
Journal your feelings when you begin to feel frustrated (prior to engaging in eating, drinking or drug use.) It is important to begin each journal section with these POSITIVE FEELINGS and or activities done during the day. Don’t rush to say everything was horrible. Learn to find goodness in life. It is easy to “hate” and believe everyone and everything opposes your success. If you are willing to place this thought process on the side, I assure you, goodness will be found. As you repeat this exercise, it gets easier and easier with practice. By the time you finish writing and remembering your positive feelings, the need to satisfy emotional eating dissipates. It also reinforces the message that YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR EATING AND YOUR BEHAVIOR!
Health Problems Including Obesity Among Family:
Parents need to begin accepting greater responsibility for THEIR HEALTH as well as THEIR CHILDREN’S HEALTH. You are role models and your children turn to you for guidance and support. What chance do they have to grow up healthy if their home environment provides unhealthy options they choose on a regular basis over healthy ones. If they see you making poor food choices, they will emulate the “omnipotent” parent and make these same poor choices time and time again. If they see you leading a sedentary life, they will continue to sit behind their computers, tablets and cell phones. Your purposeful or accidental reason for bringing these children into the world requires greater responsibility than many have realized and/or been willing to assume. It is my opinion that NOW IS THE TIME to give unconditional love, guidance and support ALL CHILDREN are entitled to receiving.
Make certain everyone eats at least three complete meals each day. If you lack confidence in your nutrition knowledge, turn to professionals including nutritionists and and other food specialists to help you understand nutritional health needs. Don’t simply turn to your doctor unless it is for a referral to a food specialist. Doctors academic studies DO NOT include training in nutrition and will likely offer little assistance (unless they have specifically studied nutrition out of personal interest.)
Just like any habit, children will learn to eat healthy food choices placed in front of them especially, if done so, early in the process. It is more challenging to expect children to willingly choose broccoli and other vegetables over sugary and processed foods once they have developed a taste for them. I have heard many parent’s exclaim, “this is not a battle I choose to fight!” It SHOULD and MUST BE. This behavior may just determine whether or not your child will develop addictive cravings to foods that may damage their health and quality of life potentially for the rest of their lives.
Become physically active as a family. Go to a water park, play tennis, go hiking and camping, go for a family walk after dinner, go to health clubs and exercise together, etc… Find quality activities that encourage physical behaviors. These types of activities support the family unit by promoting good health, happiness and strengthen emotional bonds among family members.
The home is where dietary incompatibility begins. Children have greater difficulty processing instructions and rules contradicted by their parents behavior. Consistency, that reinforces positive behaviors promoting healthy living, provides the solution to dietary incompatibility for our friends, parents and children.
Is your child overweight? (ACCORDING TO YOUR DOCTOR!) Parents are often biased.
Does your child live a sedentary lifestyle?
Is your child happy and looking forward to another day of fun and excitement?
When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see the image of a person you want your child to become as they grow up?
Do you practice the same type of rules you ask your children to live by?
Are you happy? Do you regularly look forward to creating new memories that you and your family can enjoy in the future?
Do you suggest healthy food locations or fast food restaurants when eating out?
Do you ask your friends to participate in physical activities? (hiking, bicycling, sports, health clubs, etc…)
Do you suggest going out for desserts like Friendly’s Ice Cream or Pastry shops?
Do you ever let your friends know how much you care about them and discuss your concerns about their lifestyle patterns? Do they know they have your support?
ARE WE AS “FRIENDS” ACTING AS FRIENDS OR ENABLERS?
If these questions provide unwanted answers, why not begin implementing a new approach; one that provides a potentially better outcome. Friends, parents and children, can work together to support each others’ needs to make this world an incredible place to live. We have the ability to help enhance each others’ strengths and share these strengths to help each other achieve better and healthier lives. Doesn’t this sound like a better approach with a more appealing solution to our current dilemma? If so:
FIND A PARTNER TO PAIR UP WITH.
It all starts with you and your willingness to help someone else improve their current habits and patterns.