If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably worried about your teenage kids being overweight.
If you’re worried about your teenage kids being overweight you probably struggle with your own weight too. And if you struggle with your own weight too, you are probably not modeling good habits around food and your lifestyle. You’re probably masking your habits with diet and exercise.
The truth is that kids’ eating habits are just a reflection of their parent’s or family’s habits and lifestyle. At the end of the day, people do as you do, not as you say — and so will your kids.
Chances are that your teenage kids are also worried about you and maybe a little embarrassed of you even if they don’t say it.
Have you ever wondered why your teenage kids are embarrassed to hang out with you or do everything they can to avoid being seen with you? No, it’s not just a teenage thing, because some teenagers love hanging out with their parents, as a matter of fact.
Address your own habits first
You see, the secret to ensuring your kids have healthy eating habits is to model them yourself.
Which begs the question, what are your habits like?
Do you have a good relationship with food, or do you see foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’?
Is exercise a regular part of your week, or are you more of a couch potato?
While it’s important to have discussions around healthy eating and exercising behaviours, walking the talk and modeling it for your kids is much more powerful than just telling them what they should do.
Your kids’ habits are just a reflection of your habits.
Increase your self-worth
One of the best things you can do to help your kids develop healthy eating habits is to build your self-worth. That’s right, build your self-worth.
Low self-worth (the belief that you’re not worthy) impacts so many areas of your life, many of which influence your eating habits and those closest to you.
For example, when you don’t feel you’re worthy:
- you won’t prioritise yourself
- you try to keep everyone else happy by people-pleasing
- you won’t take the time to cook delicious, nutritious food
- you’ll settle for whatever food you can slap together
- you won’t set boundaries around what you eat
- you’ll engage in binge eating or emotional eating
- you’ll use alcohol as a way to block your feelings.
But when you believe you’re worthy, you’ll prioritise yourself, stop people-pleasing and make time to cook healthy food. You won’t settle for cheap food but rather choose the tasty food you really want to eat. You’ll also eat a greater variety of foods, instead of eating the same boring food over and over. And you won’t restrict food through dieting, which means you won’t have to worry about binge eating.
We explain all of this in more detail in our blog Why eating better won’t help you lose weight.
You might also like to read our blog How low self-worth affects your weight.
Stop masking your bad habits with diet and exercise
Dieting is one of the worst things you can do for your own health and the health of your kids. It’s been proven time and time again that diets don’t work for long-term weight loss. In fact, they only cause more problems than they solve. One of these problems is the cycle of starving and bingeing.
Restricting food is like a clock pendulum that swings from side to side. Cutting calories and restricting food causes the pendulum to swing hard to one side — the side of restriction. But just like a clock pendulum, it can’t swing one way without coming back to the other side. When the pendulum swings back, you overeat and end up bingeing. Then, to counter the excess calories that were consumed, you restrict your food even further, which leads to more bingeing, and weight gain. This is why so many people who use diets to lose weight, end up falling off the wagon.
Dieting also causes you to worry about and justify what you eat. Following food rules and diets causes you to feel shame, guilt, or even fear around certain foods, or even eating anything! You end up developing a poor relationship with food, and the very act of eating (something you need to do for your own survival) becomes a source of angst, worry, and stress.
If you want your teens to develop healthy eating patterns and to have a good relationship with food, ditch the diets once and for all. Our blog Why doing nothing is better than going on a diet will explain this more fully.
Confront your fears
The reason you mask your habits with diets and exercise is because you’re afraid to deal with your habits. Most people will do anything to avoid confronting the hard things (the habits that have led them to become overweight in the first place), so they distract themselves with other things — usually diets. But food and exercise will not solve your problems.
You need to confront your fears and start addressing your habits if you want to solve your weight problem because unless you do, you’ll continue to go around in circles.
We explain this in more detail in our blog Nothing changes if nothing changes: How to lose weight for good.
Put yourself first
Often people who struggle with their weight have trouble putting themselves first. This usually means they engage in people-pleasing behaviours and putting other people’s needs before their own. This then leads them to be time-poor which means they don’t plan their meals, go grocery shopping, or even do weekly food prep. What then follows is poor eating — either by relying on fast food, snacking on processed food, eating the same thing over and over, or eating whatever you can find.
The truth is you can’t pour from an empty cup. To be a good parent you need to put yourself first, even before your kids. Otherwise, you end up giving them the rest of you, instead of the best of you.
If you want your kids to develop good eating habits, you need to prioritise yourself and make time to plan for and prepare healthy, nutritious meals. Our blog Family-friendly meal prep secrets will show you how to do this.
If you’re stuck for what to cook, our Recipe Book has over 100 family-friendly, easy-to-prepare recipes that the whole family will enjoy.
Empower instead of enabling
Many parents are afraid to have tough conversations with their kids because they either want to protect them or because they’re afraid of upsetting them. However, being a good parent is about empowering your kids to make their own decisions, and to learn from their mistakes, rather than protecting them. It’s also about setting boundaries, instead of letting them do what they like.
While having junk food every now and then is fine, having it all the time is not. However, if your teens are eating this way, you are actually enabling them by not saying ‘no’. Before you go and tell your kids they need to stop eating processed snack food, ask yourself whether you eat that kind of food yourself. Because your kids will do as you do and not as you say.
Remember that people don’t have weight problem, parenting problems or whatever problems you can insert here, people have personal problems (habits, mindset, fears, identity, beliefs, etc) that reflect throughout their life.
You can read more about this in our blog What’s really causing your weight problem and what you can do about it.
Set boundaries, not food rules
When it comes to food, our philosophy is fairly simple. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Food is just food and should be enjoyed not just because of its nutritional value, but because it tastes good, smells good, makes us feel good, and brings people together. In short, you should learn to eat and enjoy all food.
That said, it’s also healthy to set boundaries around food. These are non-negotiable behaviour that you get to choose, as opposed to diet rules. For example, one of your boundaries may be that you eat vegetables every day, or you limit eating out to twice a week, or you eat protein in most meals, or you only drink alcohol on the weekend. The great thing about boundaries is that you get to set them yourself, based on what will work for you. Setting boundaries means that you can develop healthy eating habits, and still have the freedom to enjoy your favourite foods.
We explain in more detail in our blog Forget diets and food rules. Try this weight loss tip instead.
You might also like to read our blog How to involve the whole family in your weight loss journey.
Let go of control
If you’re worried about your teenagers eating junk food, don’t. This is a phase that most teens go through and it’s actually healthier long-term to let them than to try to control what they eat. Trying to control what kids eat leads them to develop poor eating habits in the future while restricting food, particularly a type of food (e.g. junk food) increases the desire to eat it because it’s ‘forbidden’. Then they grow into adults who are more likely to reach for the unhealthy options.
At the end of the day, you need to let go of control and focus on what you’re doing instead. The example you set has more influence over your kids’ eating habits than their peers or even advertising.
How DATSTM Personal Coaching Program helps
The DATSTM Personal Coaching Program will help you address your habits that have led you to become overweight and show you how to develop a good relationship with food. And when you have a good relationship with food, your teenage kids will as well.
Through DATSTM coaching we give you the tools and strategies to help you improve your habits around food, mindset, and fitness so you can lose weight and keep it off, as well as model great eating habits for the rest of your family.
Through the DATSTM system, which includes structure and accountability, you will work with the world’s leading personal coaching in habit and mindset change, and permanent weight loss, so you and your family can have a healthy, happy future.
- If you’re worried about your teenage kids’ eating habits, chances are you struggle with your weight too, you’re masking your habits with diets and exercise, and you’re not modelling good habits yourself.
- Developing a good relationship with food yourself is the best way to ensure your kids grow up with healthy eating habits, because your kids do as you do, not what you say.
- You need to stop masking your bad habits with diets and exercise and confront your fears.
- To develop healthy eating habits, you need to learn to put yourself first, address the habits that have led you to become overweight and build your self-worth.
- Our DATSTM Personal Coaching Program is the only program that can help you achieve all of that.
- Our DATSTM Program gives you the knowledge, systems, tools, and skills to help you build a good relationship with food, so you can model this for your family.