How eating breakfast can beat obesity in teens

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Obesity! Is one word that is creating Havoc in this country. What made me to write this blog was the story of a teenager who came to me few days back to reduce weight. Teenage period is the transition period where maximum growth and development takes place. At this stage nutrients play a major role in their life. Actually not only nutrients, but a good healthy lifestyle is also important. Parents are doing great effort to make their children healthy but, 

“Are they going on the right track? If they are, then why are our teenagers getting obese?” 

Is the ‘gene’ to take all the blame ?

The very obvious reason people gave you is “it’s in the genes” which is 100% true, but it is possible to control obesity if you follow a healthy diet along with good lifestyle.

So if I look at his lifestyle and food diary which was like this:

  • Wake up at 6:30am and leave for school at 7:30am eating nothing because he feels acidic when he wakes up and eating makes him puckish
  • In the school (short break): Have two veg patty with one coke or sometimes fries with coke, by 10am. “I feel very hungry and want to eat everything,” he said.
  • 12:30 long break: “I have biscuits along with my tiffin”
  • 3:00pm: Reaches home and sleeps.
  • 4:30pm: wakes up, do some of his home work till 5:30pm
  • 6:00pm: Drinks coffee/milk/tea with some namkeen, bhelpuri, chips or anything that is available
  • Watches TV for sometime, then go out with his friends on active (bike) to have some fun, sometimes plays cricket but not daily.
  • 9:00pm: dinner-3 rotis or rice or chapattis with any vegetable
  • 12:00pm-sleep ( “till then I watch TV, play video games on tab.time ka pata nahi chalta”, he says meaning that time flies quickly.)

I asked his mom, “Would you like to say something about this?” She said “he doesn’t feel much hungry all day and though he is fat but he doesn’t feel energetic or does any household work and in the morning we try making him eat but in vain. We tried making him eat parathas, bread jam so that he feels hungry but nothing worked, though he doesn’t eat a lot but we are really clueless why he has started put on weight at this age?”

Eating a healthy breakfast may help adolescents avoid overeating later in the day and disrupt unhealthy eating patterns, such as not eating early in the day and eating a lot late in the evening — Dianne Neumark-Sztainer.

The point here is, today’s teenagers are not getting good nutrition instead they convince their parents for having McDonalds, subway ,pizza and many more foods like this by saying, “it is full of veggies”. However, even they it may contain vegetables, this is not a healthy kind of meal.  It is a very unpleasant feeling when you come across children with these ailments. 

The growing health concerns apart from obesity :

Today, it has become quite normal to see teenagers citing health issues such as 

  • bad eyesight 
  • dental problems
  • hormonal imbalance, etc. 

Few of the major reasons that are responsible for such problems are : 

  • Easy availability of unhealthy processed foods than it was several years ago
  • The absence or lack of parental supervision on teenager’s food habits. Most parents allow their child to indulge in any kind of junk food available in the market harbouring the thought,“they are having some food at least”. 
  • Most teens are couch potatoes. They are glued to the TV, Video games, Tabs, Mobiles, and seldom go out and indulge in physical activities.

This certainly was not a situation a decade back.

3 Actions you should take now to beat your teen’s obesity 

As a parent every mother is very protective towards her child, but as a parent do you think his eating habits and lifestyle is correct? My answer is : “absolutely not!” 

As a concerned parent you must bring a few lifestyle changes your kid’s life, in order to Mae his teenage a healthier and energetic one:

1. Early to bed and early to rise:

Make sure your child wakes up little early, at least one hour before going to school. Kids should complete their morning routine before heading towards breakfast. Wake him 15-20 minutes earlier and make him do little walk and clean his stomach. This will help in increasing appetite. This will become an obvious routine once you make your child sleep early. This will allow him eat breakfast without any haste which is the first rule and yet the most neglected part of weight loss regime.

2. Don’t skip breakfast :

Morning routine takes time to build up. Don’t let your child go hungry. Breakfast will keep him active throughout the day, improve concentration power and memory. We found in many studies that children who skip their breakfast are more likely to crave wrong foods in large quantities which is one reason for gaining weight. Skipping breakfast or having your first meal too late also makes the body metabolism drop which is another reason for put on weight in children. So yes the routine will take time but as parents don’t give up, check with him. Does his stomach get clear daily? It might be because of this he feels puckish. 

3. Eating in portion:

Sometimes your children don’t like the food you give him. In which case, ask him what he likes to eat and if he does not like to have anything, gradually build habit with small portion. Don’t force him to eat more. Once he starts including small portion, gradually increase it. Develop this habit by offering:

  • Offering half glass of milk instead of full. Allow him to choose between almond/cashew nuts/pistachios or elaichi powder to add in it.
  • Give him small paratha of his choice in place of regular parathas.
  • Give if the option of eating half of a fruit with 5 almonds in place of a whole fruit.
  • Try to be creative. Try different varieties of recipes for 5 days a week at least to shudder monotony.

Maintain these basic rules for sometime as it takes 21 days to form a habit. Once your teenager starts having breakfast on time regularly, he will feel good, energetic and less likely to eat wrong foods. So if your child is struggling with obesity, start right from the morning itself .

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