This is an interesting topic. Controversial I would think. I remember watching a BBC documentary. The story was about a mom who would push her 12-year old son in a wheelchair because he’s too tired to walk. He was overweight.
She would wait for him at the bus stop with the wheelchair. She would serve him with snacks the entire day in case he was hungry. He was about 12-years old at the time. A nice kid. Good manners and everything.
When I see things like this, or hear about things like this, I must remind myself that there’s always an enabler. In almost all these instances there’s a parent or grown-up that enables this behavior. I get it. No parent will do their child any harm and almost 100% of the time the parent’s intentions are good.
We all love sweet things. Our brains are hardwired to want these foods.
On an evolutionary basis, our primitive ancestors were scavengers. They hunted. When they come across a beehive on their hunting expedition, all parts in their brains’ reward system would light up. The purpose? It is your brain’s job to make sure you remember exactly where to find the honey next time. That helped us to maximize our survival as a species.
We were never designed to munch on a Bar-One and a Coke every day.
Our brain remodels and rewire itself through a process called neuroplasticity. In a 3-part series, I explain how your neuropathways are created. And when you repeat an action so many times that you don’t need to think about it, it becomes a habit. The only way to combat negativity or the habit is to create a new neuropathway.
When we are born, as babies the only food we need is breast milk. It contains the right amount of fats, carbs, and protein for a baby to survive.
Babies eat when they are hungry. They stop when they are full. All humans are born with the innate ability to stop when they are full.
Whatever we do when we get older, are learned behavior. Here are a few things we do as parents that teach our children behavior patterns when it comes to eating.
1) A baby is fuzzy and doesn’t want to drink for 10 min. You get angry because the nurse said the baby should drink for 10 min on each breast. Now, you spend 30 min forcing your child to drink, when they are in fact full. Both mom and baby gets frustrated. This is your child’s first encounter associating eating with frustration.
2) Children can be afraid of going hungry because parents restrict their intake. It can be because they are financially strapped, or things are so disorganized in the home that the child can’t depend on getting fed when they are hungry. These kids grow up with a scarcity mindset that there’s always going to be a lack. So when there’s food, you need to eat as much as you can because you don’t know when you will be fed again.
3) The language that is used around food is equally important. If your child is used to hearing food described in limiting ways, this can also create a scarcity mentality. It will make those foods more desirable, even if they are not hungry. For example, telling a child, “This is all you get”, or “You can’t have any more of that”, etc. Kids can interpret this to mean that food is scarce or limited.
Children will begin to feel more preoccupied with foods if there is the fear they are missing out.
Children know how much they need to eat.
It’s the parent that decides what should be eaten, when it should be eaten, and where it should be eaten. Children decide how much and whether they want to eat or not.
Of course, get rid of the junk food. Never let them snack on junk food because you’re scared that they might be hungry in-between. I hear a lot of my friends saying “I need to buy all these snacks” in-case they get hungry. Because no-one wants a hungry child pulling and nagging on you, right? Remember that it’s these very same junk food snacks, that make you MORE hungry and want you to snack MORE.
Make your child part of the decision process. Give them the responsibility to tell you when they had enough. Trust your child to know how much he/she needs to eat. You will be amazed at your child’s change in behavior.
They normally only become rebellious if you force them to start doing things they don’t want to do. We almost ‘expect’ this behavior from teenagers, but yet we choose not to be aware of this when they are smaller.
Let’s be smarter parents. It’s an easy change to make, yet it can be extremely powerful.