Preventing Emotional OverEating

Did you know Mexico has the highest obesity rating in children over the world and the USA comes in second? What can we do about it? Some people will tell you it’s the steroids in meat or the sugar in everything we eat. Well, they are partially right, but it is so much more. You can give a three year old a lot of food and most likely they will stop eating when they are full. By age five, most will eat everything set before them.  ( There are exceptions of course for the picky eaters.) If given more food, these children will eat more. They will overeat past the point of hunger satiation and their bite sizes get bigger.

The secret to long-term eating control and weight loss is learning to find reward from eating 10-20% smaller amounts of food that you enjoy and crave. Over time the same amount of reward will be obtained from consuming smaller amounts of hyperpalatable sweet, fatty, and salty foods. Emotional overeating is done when people are sad, anxious, bored, or happy. Learning to deal with these emotions in a more effective manner is the key to decreasing or eliminating overeating.So how do we help the children from emotional overeating? The key is to stop it before it begins. Try these guidelines:

  • Tell the child to listen to internal cues for hunger and fullness.
  • Encourage to stop eating when they feel full.
  • Eat slower and enjoy the food.
  • Encourage physical activity for pleasure instead of the electronics.
  • Provide the child with a variety of types of food.
  • Encourage to eat more fruit and vegetables.
  • Find ways for the child to deal with emotions and boredom than reaching for food.
  • Compliment attributes like creativity, uniqueness, and sincerity rather than body size and weight.
  • Don’t use food as a reward for good behavior.
  • Don’t use food as guilt. For example: people starving in Africa.
  • Don’t speak negatively about the child’s body size or shape.
  • Don’t compare child to someone else’s child.
  • Don’t promote dieting.
  • Don’t forbid certain foods. Instead decrease the amount of sugary, fatty, or salty foods. Try a few bites instead of a whole piece of cake for example.

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