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How Healthy Is Your Kitchen?

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I've been thinking a lot about kids and food lately, and I'm wondering what it's like in your family.  I feel as though we've been given so much information about good nutrition that I don't understand how so many kids are turning up at school with junk in their lunchbags (when they bring their lunch, that is).

Is it that people don't really know what constitutes good nutrition, or is it that we know what's healthy but everyone's too busy to buy and prepare it?  Could it be that parents today are less likely to take a strong stand with their kids, and if the kids say they won’t eat something, no matter how healthy it might be, parents decide not to fight them on it?  Or maybe all of the above?


Andrea Ramsay Speers - Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I read an article recently that was targeted at parents of kids ages 12 to 14, that was about helping kids keep from procrastinating on their homework.  But it was all about what the parent can do to manage the situation, with some about the kid's responsibility in all of it.  My personal feeling is that parents need to take a consultant role when it comes to their teen's homework, and then step back and let the child handle it. 

We want to arm our kids with the best resources and skills possible, but at some point we have to give them the space to do it all on their own.  This is a great issue to bring up at a family meeting: "I've noticed that I've had a lot of last minute requests lately for help with homework.  What could we do to get everything handed in on time?"  Do some brainstorming, find out where your kids feel they could use some improvement, then give them a hand without "owning" the situation yourself. 

If they stand a chance at being successful, they need these skills and systems to make the most of their natural talents and abilities.  But they also need to be able to implement these systems themselves, so now's the time to show them how, and let them do it.

What's Eating Our Kids?

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Did you know that eating disorders are starting to be diagnosed in girls as young as 11?  Traditionally, they were not thought to be diagnosable until closer to adulthood, but more and more, doctors are seeing behaviours consistent with anorexia nervosa and bulimia in younger and younger girls.

Eating disorders can be hard to diagnose, because the diagnostic criteria isn't always applicable to children. But the effects of an undiagnosed eating disorder can be devastating -- physically, emotionally, and socially.

While there are no hard and fast rules in identifying eating disorders, parents should be alert to certain signs.  Changing moods or attitudes, a developing preoccupation with food, and changes in social behaviours or appearance are certainly not exclusive to eating disorders, but they are signs to watch for.  An obsession with fitness or exercise is also a clue -- as is running to the bathroom right after eating.

And of course, the most reliable indicator of a problem is your gut.  If you feel there is a problem, there probably is.  Don't talk yourself out of getting it checked out.

Luckily, there are now more and more programs focused on addressing teen and preteen eating disorders.  If your doctor isn't able to provide you with treatment options specifically tailored to teens, do an Internet search.  Psychotherapist Abigail Natenshon's web site has a lot of specific information and support, for example.  Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto also has an eating disorders program.

What if you think your son is the one with the eating disorder?  Well, sadly, eating disorders are on the rise for boys, too.  Their motivations for wanting to lose weight are often different than girls, but the warning signs are the same. 

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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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