Youth obesity is a prevalent, dangerous (and growing) epidemic. Can there be a plan where prevention of weight-gain and increase in healthy weight-loss can exist? Yes, there may be an interesting and potentially successful fix for childhood obesity.
What It’s Looked Like In The Past
Diet, as a term, basically means the types and amounts of foods someone typically eats. “Dieting”, however, has become known as the practice of reducing calories and changing eating and exercise patterns.
Many youth-based obesity programs focus on “dieting.” They often stress the counting of intake calories, along with counting calories burned through exercise. That’s a plausible and proven successful method of accomplishing a weight-loss goal. But is it working? Clearly, not well enough.
A New Approach
“Mindful eating” is a new buzz-term that can truly benefit our overweight and obese youth. It’s an approach to eating that emphasizes on how the body feels while eating—and afterwards.
There’s a focus on the foods we put into our mouths. That would be a simplistic definition of mindful eating. But, Dr. Lenna Liu explains that a more demonstrative example of that focus means, “It allows us to pay attention to hunger and fullness, emotional connections to food and the relationships involved in eating.”
How Do You Feel?
Mindful eating focuses on what we ingest and why. If I’m feeling sad and I eat a gallon of ice cream, it’s pretty obvious what I’m eating and why.
Keeping an eye on ourselves, with compassion, we can make healthy food choices that focus on using food as energy. That’s what its intention is/was. All the artificial flavors and fats and salts…those are all unhealthy soothers.
Dr. Lenna Lui is a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She expresses that mindful eating focuses on positives, not negatives. She suggests we all observe our emotional connection to foods and how we respond accordingly.
Being Models For Our Kids
We all grab for “comfort” food. But why does food need to be the comfort? There must be an alternate, progressive way to help our youth. They needn’t tie their emotional needs or disappointments into eating. We can teach them differently!
As Liu points out, “the urge to eat due to emotions can occur suddenly and urgently.” If we, as adults, can recognize what’s going on, we can communicate or model a healthier approach for our children.
Explaining, demonstrating, and modeling that food is a beautiful necessity—we need it to “think, play, learn, and grow.” Also, making sure we provide healthy foods in the home will make a huge difference how children choose their foods. Working together, we all can make a difference.