By Deena Hamza
Each day I work with people of all ages but my favorite age group is children who are between the ages of 5 and 16. I have found that the majority of children or youth between the ages of 5 and 16 are willing to learn new things about the world and are ready to make self-improvements. On the contrary, working with adults is tedious and most of the time I feel as though I am banging my head against a wall that will never yield or chip.
I educate young children and youth on the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle and how healthy food is better for the body and mind. All but a few reject a healthy lifestyle but find it difficult to follow because they are dependent on the choices of their parents. That puts me back to square one: adults.
I have a client who, for the life of him, just can’t eat healthy. He has the mentality that healthy food is only meant to be eaten as a punishment. I dug a little deeper into his thought processes and unraveled a piece of his childhood that may have triggered this point of view. When my client was younger (30+ years ago) his mom would serve meat with potatoes and either broccoli or asparagus for every meal. If he didn’t finish his greens he would receive double the amount the following night. Turns out, he just didn’t like broccoli or asparagus meanwhile his mom must have thought he was a deviant child straight from hell!
The point I’m demonstrating here for my G.O.Ps is that using food as a punishment, or a reward for that matter, is not the way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have clients who reward themselves with a 6-pack of beer after an intense week of training or others who reward themselves after every workout with a McDonald’s value meal or a chocolate bar.
Way to go 1 step forward and 10 steps back!
Here’s the bottom line:
- If you’re a parent, be a positive example for your child and eat healthy because monkey-see monkey-do.
- Do not reward yourself or your child with food. Try verbal praise or commendation or planning a special activity together.
- Do not punish yourself or your child with food. If you fall off the wagon, tomorrow is a new day to start fresh and it’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon.
- Our habits develop when we’re young and continue to expand and grow unless we’re redirected.
Remember that KNOWLEDGE is POWER! ~DEENA