September is National Childhood Obesity month, and a perfect time to have this week's guest, Dr. Wendy Sofer. She's a pediatrician and a certified health and wellbeing coach.
And she's the founder of Family and Focus, a program she created for parents who are worried about weight at home, their weight, and their kid's weight as well. She helps them shift the focus of the scale to create healthier relationships with the food body, and with the whole family.
Again, this work could not be more important now as childhood obesity rates have dramatically risen in the last several years. I discussed in a prior podcast about the change in weight in our kids during the pandemic, the statistics show that 19% of our children ages two through 19 were considered to have excess weight in August of 2019. And that went up toy 22.4% one year later.
And of course, this is associated with metabolic consequences like type two diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in our children, as well as psychosocial complications like depression.
So tune into my conversation now with Dr. Wendy for a shift in the narrative around her children's weight, and a focus on lifelong health and well-being that will serve you and your family.
What you will learn from this episode:
“Kids push back [healthy eating habits] and sneak things, into their rooms because they're afraid of losing it. Because so much of the messaging has been about removing [and restricting] food and nobody wants to have things taken away from them.” - Dr. Wendy Sofer
Tips To Help Your Kids Develop a Healthy Relationship With Food
[on how to develop heating eating habits in kids] “When we start adding in that structure and planning it out, it can actually do a lot to be able to help diffuse that frenzy that we get into.” - Dr. Wendy Sofer
“Start by adding things in because so much of the messaging has been about removing and nobody wants to have things taken away from them. “ - Dr. Wendy Sofer
Connect with Dr. Wendy Sofer:
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Childhood Obesity: Parental Intervention without All the Food and Body Drama with Wendy Schofer
Welcome back Health Bite fam. Welcome to the podcast health bite, where I offer you small actionable bites towards healthy weight and weight management through greater mental, emotional and physical well being. I'm your host, Dr. Adrienne Youdim.
And I created this podcast as an alternative to the noise to offer you knowledge based guidance in the areas of nutrition, fitness, habit, change, and mindset that I use with my patients every day to help them achieve healthy weight and health. September is National Childhood Obesity month, and a perfect time to have this week's guest, Dr. Wendy Schofer .
She's a pediatrician and a certified health and wellbeing coach. And she's the founder of family in focus, a program she created for parents who are worried about weight at home, their weight, and their kids weight as well. She helps them shift the focus off the scale to create healthier relationships with food body, and with the whole family. Again, this work could not be more important. Now as childhood obesity rates have dramatically risen in the last several years, I discussed in a prior podcast about the change in weight. In our kids during the pandemic, the statistics show that 19% of our children ages two through 19, were considered to have excess weight in August of 2019.
And that went up to 22%. Actually 22.4% One year later. And of course, this is associated with metabolic consequences like type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol in our children, as well as psychosocial complications like depression. So tune into my conversation now with Dr. Wendy, for a shift in the narrative around her children's weight, and a focus on lifelong health and well being that will serve you and your family. Well, Wendy, I'm so excited. As I mentioned, I'm so excited to have you here. What an important topic and what a timely time to have this conversation.
Wendy Schofer 2:18
Oh, thank you so much for having me. And most importantly, to just be able to talk face to face and being able to connect here. This is totally what I love. It's just connecting with other folks in the same space.
Adrienne Youdim 2:32
Likewise, before we get into it, I'm always curious, how did you come upon this work working with children working with food, I always say we all have our own food stories. So perhaps you would delve into that as well.
Wendy Schofer 2:49
You know, I've got mine. So we know Wendy? Absolutely. As a pediatrician, you know, for so many years, I felt like I knew exactly what to do you know exactly what to prescribe what to tell families. And you know, as we had that increasing rates of obesity, talking about overweight, more and more in the office, it just felt like I wasn't really doing any kind of justice by families by just, you know, telling them eat less, move more, you know, here's the tip sheet. See you back in three, six, whatever it is months. And it really started standing out to me that there was more to the picture. There's the story that I always tell about a young girl who was coming in, I think she was at six years old for her well visit. And I looked at her growth curves at the very beginning of the visit, as I always do, you know, just vital signs, growth curves. And I saw that she had been growing consistently. She was on the upper end of the growth curve, but she was always growing consistently. I went through what kind of nutrition and meal habits she has with her family, the activity, academics sleep, how she's getting along, socially, all of it, there was no red flag whatsoever. But mom looked like she had something on her mind. And I finally just call out. I said, what's going on? She's like, when are you going to tell me that I'm doing it wrong? Like what are you talking about? Like all these wonderful things. She's like, My child has always been overweight. And everybody always tells me what I'm doing wrong. And it just really struck me then that it was really impacting the way that this mom was looking at her role at her job at her ability of being a mom and how she was raising her child and it just hit me like a load of bricks like oh gosh, there's got to be a better way to be able to do this. What I'm doing isn't isn't really helping here, because there's so many other messages that are coming through. Maybe not just in the medical office, but also in the community. I gotta tell you I also had my own heart to heart with that my own food story as I watch my own kids growing across the growth curves. And what kind of things are coming up for me that I was questioning what that meant for me as a pediatrician, for me as a mom, and you know, all the things that I knew all the things I thought, you know, what is healthy? How do I do this? And then I'm starting to question all of it, what is all this for, and then I started finding, you know, the food wrappers in my kids rooms. And it occurred to me that I was using this information that I had about what was healthy. And I was trying to control my kids, I was trying to control what they ate, trying to control, you know, how they moved, I was trying to control their weight, it was totally backfiring. It wasn't teaching them to make decisions for themselves, it was making me into the food monster. And it just wasn't the way that I wanted to do it. And so it was really kind of like this big aha moment for me that it was clinically I wanted to do things different. But then also starting at home, how did I really want to connect with my kids? And it's funny, because I didn't know, I didn't have this language around food. I didn't have this language around, you know, creating relationships with your body. That that's not a this if we hadn't heard about emotions in medical school, right?
Adrienne Youdim 6:28
We didn't learn about it in medical school, and we didn't learn about it in our upbringing. That's not just, it's just not the way our parents spoke.
Wendy Schofer 6:35
Right? Yeah, we were always told to put it aside throughout all of our training, like we don't do emotions here, relationships that's in your off time. Like that's not here. I actually had sought out coaching in order to help me professionally. And I saw how it was really just starting to change my relationships. And it started off with my relationship with my mother in law of all people. And I said, if I can change this relationship, and this dear sweet woman who will never change didn't have to change. There's something here. And so I just started applying that to my own relationships with my food with my body. And oh, my family definitely benefited. It was just that that ripple effect, it started with me, and relationships.
Adrienne Youdim 7:22
Yeah, what's really fascinating about that initial story, time and time again, the age six comes up. And in fact, I was sharing with you about my book hungry for more, I share in the first chapter of that book, that the first time that anyone ever brought my weight to my own attention was age six. And the story of the patient that I share in that book, in real life, also pointed out age six. And then when I went back into the research, the data shows that girls start to have awareness and shame around her body as early as age six. So it's just interesting. I don't know if it's coincidence that that age comes up again. And again, just that point. That is fascinating. But also, you're in that story that you mentioned of your patient and the mother, you can see the shame in the mom, right? And so we always talk or we were starting to talk we didn't always about the shame. That is it that we grow up with around food and our bodies and our weight no matter what way you are, right? I mean, underweight people have it overweight people have it, I certainly know I experienced it. But in your story, you highlight the shame in the mom, and how often is that unknowingly passed on to our children.
Wendy Schofer 8:44
It's one of those things that shame is just kind of along for the ride. It's in the background, and we don't necessarily speak about it, but it's there. I can see how it influences the way that we talk within our the safety, the privacy of our home, own homes. When shame is there. It impacts how open we are. It impacts how we feel that we can connect with others to be able to really understand what we're all going through. And yeah, definitely the concerns about food about body. Those are shared within families as well, even if we aren't talking about it.
Adrienne Youdim 9:20
Absolutely. You know, just this morning, actually, I was at my third grades school for a kickball game at end of the year kickball game. And I was watching the parents and there were some parents were who were heavily involved and engaged in the scoring by their children. There were other parents who were so excited that the dog you know that the child just made it to the mat and actually made contact with the ball. What I noticed in my Android told myself in my head is it's so funny because when you watch parents watch sports, you can see you can almost guess what their child I've had issues where right? It's like, all your shit comes up when you're watching your kids play sports. And it's the same thing with food, right?
Wendy Schofer 10:08
Like, all your shit comes
Adrienne Youdim 10:09
up when you watch your children's relationship with food, and a lot of that is unprocessed, right? Or even just not even on the radar, much less processed. I'm curious in the work that you do, given that it's so shame laden? How do you suggest to parents, that this might be your shit? How do you bring that up in a kind? And I'm joking, of course. But really, I mean, in a kind of compassionate manner, because we're not none of us are immune, right? As parents or as people, none of us are immune from from having that history,
Wendy Schofer 10:42
I think more so than saying, this is your shit.
Adrienne Youdim 10:46
Right? I don't suggest that to our listeners. Please don't do that to anybody. Right. But I just wanted to lighten the mood, because it is something that we all have, right? Let's just face it. It
Wendy Schofer 10:57
is it is. It's our things to deal with. But the thing that I start looking at it to approach it more than anything else, I mean, eventually the conversation is like, oh, my gosh, this is my shit. Absolutely. But I think it's more about looking at how the parents that I see more often than not reach out to me because they've had their struggles with their food, their weight over their lifespan, and now they're seeing how it's impacting their children. So it's the focus on what does this mean for my child? What does this mean with their eating habits, what I'm seeing on the scale, how they're moving, but the thing is that it's not about the child, it's not about focusing on what we need to change for, you know, their eating habits, or how we need to change the child because ultimately, that's the message that the that the kids get, if we're just focusing on them, that what they're doing is wrong, that they are wrong, we actually change that focus from the child back to well, what is it that we want to create as a whole family? What is it that we want to do around these healthy habits? What is it that we want to do about creating those habits that we want to share with the whole family, which is completely different from diet mentality? Like the whole thing about restricting food? And you're like, well, we'll do this for this person, but not for that person. Right? Okay, that's a red flag. That's the way that you know this, like, Hey, hold on a minute, if I can't share this approach with everybody, maybe we're not on the right path. But that's where I bring it back to the parent, honestly, being the key player in all of this, like, how is it that your, your history, your concerns, from your own life are now coming up? And they're even stronger? Because of what you're seeing your child struggling with right now? But how much is it actually your struggles than your child struggles? And that's what we really explore.
Adrienne Youdim 12:52
And I want to get to that family based approach. But I also want to address the true concern, right? Because I think sometimes there's pushback from the parents, and maybe rightfully so in their minds, because this is a real worry, we have seen childhood overweight and obesity skyrocket. And that was even before the pandemic where the numbers now are staggering. And so how do you address that worry and validate the true concern that this is a health issue? You know, this is not a cosmetic issue. But this is a health issue. And quite frankly, those who are overweight and obese in childhood are it's the number one predictor right of being overweight or obese as an adult, which then segues into the health risks. So how do you validate that fear? And true worry valid worry in your parent?
Wendy Schofer 13:50
I guess, in my experience, I haven't had a lot of concerns about parents needing it to be validated. They're like, No, it's legit. It's real. It's so it's not really a question with that. I think it's more in my practice of looking at how is that fear? And how does that help or excuse me, the fear and the worry, really helping you and helping your child. Because when we get into the fear and the worry so often, that's where the control comes out. We're trying to control what our kids are eating and how they're moving. But is that taking away from that opportunity to really connect and build those relationships, teaching the child letting them have the opportunity to learn about their own relationship with food, which if we're controlling all of it, how do they get to build that relationship as opposed to this is the portion that I was given this is when where it is a fine dance, you know, really trying to help open the door open the conversation for helping kids in multiple different ways. And especially when we do start having the overlap with different medical conditions, the diagnoses, this is something that we need to address with both the interpersonal and the relationship and the medical perspective. Got to see a couple of different sides coming together here. There's no one right answer. And I think that that's one of the things that really opened up in my coaching practice. That it's, it's really shifting out of I know what's right for this family, that approach that I had in the medical office, like, here you go, this is the instruction sheet, go do it. Versus Alright, let's work together and see what's going to work for your family. Let's see what's going to build you up help. Let's see what's going to build those relationships. Because ultimately, it's what kids need. Kids need that support. They need that, that love and that guidance, but the guidance that's supportive, not necessarily the controlling side, which is a big word. I know I keep on bringing up control. Yeah. Kids are looking for that autonomy.
Adrienne Youdim 16:00
Absolutely. But I want you to tease that out a little bit. Right? Because how do you do that when when a child is so maybe it's become so habitual for them to engage in, in certain foods or snacks after school? Or they hide it and you see wrappers in their bedrooms? Like you mentioned? Can you tease out control from guidance, and then speak to the very real truth? That just because you're guiding doesn't mean that they're changing their behaviors, at least not at first? And so how do you also manage that watchful waiting?
Wendy Schofer 16:41
It's all of Pediatrics is watchful waiting. Welcome to my career.
Adrienne Youdim 16:46
That's why I wanted to adult medicine and I hear your sister,
Wendy Schofer 16:51
I think that there's a lot of things that it's, it's really about kind of taking the steps one step at a time, because nothing's going to change overnight. Absolutely nothing. And the reason why we do things that we're doing right now, the habits that we have, it's because they're helping us in some way or another, like, how is it helping? What is it doing for your child for your family, that they are going and having multiple snacks? Well, why? What is it? How is that benefiting them? A lot of times what comes up is the question about you know, hunger versus you know, emotional eating most commonly kind of like distinguishing between the two. And I think that's really where we get the opportunity to first ask what's going on here, looking at, you know, if my child comes by the pantry, and every time they come by, they're going in, they're grabbing something? Well, we can say, hey, pantry is closed, shut down. That's it. Or you can start saying, Hey, hold on what's going on here? And just get curious about it? What is the pattern? Is it something where my child is going through a growth spurt? And they are actually hungry more frequently than I have previously noticed in the past? Or is it something you know, like in our household, like, I tell you, this was a common thing during the pandemic, with those early days, everybody was at home, and we were all within 10 feet of the pantry. And so just noticing, okay, what's going on? Right now I see that we're going to the pantry more often. How are you feeling right now? What's going on? Are you bored? Are you nervous? Are you sad? Are you happy? I start getting curious, I start asking a lot more. And it may not necessarily be me as a parent, asking the kids but more asking myself, What do I observe here? What is the pattern? And I really see that pattern recognition being a real big help to be able to see, well, where do I go with this? Because part of what you're asking is about that control about what do we have access to? I heard part of that in there? You know, do we have the free rein or not? That's something where we have concerns about how much food or what types of foods do we have access to? I first get curious, what is it that I'm seeing? What kind of patterns? Is this something you know, for different family members? Why are they going to the pantry, just this particular example? And then I start looking at how do I want to approach that foundation that structure for the whole family? Not that singling out anybody?
Adrienne Youdim 19:23
That's such a paradigm shift, right? Because it really takes the conversation away from food, which is really the side effect to what as I like to say they are truly hungry for it's such an opportunity. I always say you know, I never never went into medicine thinking I was going to be a weight loss doc, right? Like an alternative to Jenny Craig and SlimFast. What what's beautiful about this work is that our relationship for food or with food is really a mirror in terms of our relationship with ourselves. On the grander scheme, and being able to use this opportunity to ask that question of how are you feeling and helping our children identify their emotions, which is something going back to our upbringing, right? I don't know how you were raised. But in an immigrant family, it was like, you've got a roof over your head, check your fed check. And I've kind of minimizing a little bit, but we didn't talk so much about how are you feeling. And that's we know now such an integral part of wellbeing and emotional and mental health. I love where you went with that. And it is really the crux of all of this, which is to detach from the food itself, and really delve into what's happening, which is, what is the impetus? And what is the emotion that's driving that behavior
Wendy Schofer 20:55
are so much more that we can learn? Just by pulling back and not focusing on the food? On the wait, again, even on the individual child? Like, what is it that we kind of see if we're just kind of watching from a distance, like if you were kind of like peeking into the, into the household, and just kind of seeing how folks interact with each other, how they're moving over the course of the day, what their mood patterns are, you know, their eating habits, or you know, when they're grabbing for food, what's going on, at those times, there's a lot more that we can learn. That is beyond the specifics about portion size, what's actually on the plate, the number of calories, all of that there's so much more that we can understand. It really does come down to those relationships, how is it that we're really building that relationship in our home, as we're helping our kids building the relationship between me and my child, as I'm also building those relationships with my body, letting them build their relationship with their body, I don't create their relationship with their own body. So it's something that they get to do that, but I also get to model how I'm treating my body column eating. That is something that is modeled for them. How do
Adrienne Youdim 22:11
you address the sense of urgency course, you can say I don't practice diet culture, you know, until your head explodes. But at the end of the day, diet, culture has been ingrained in our collective psyche. People when it comes to themselves, they're looking, even if they say they're not looking for a quick fix, they're looking for a interim sub acute quick fix. And then when it comes to our kids, we feel even a greater sense of urgency, right? So how do you temper that
Wendy Schofer 22:41
really kind of questioning? Are they in it for, you know, kind of the sprint versus the marathon, because we didn't get here, quickly, you know, all of the different eating habits, that we have all of the different, you know, relationships with each other, or you know, just with movement, like all of us something it took time to get here. And even to our current weight, it took time to get here. Nothing is going to change overnight. Nothing unravels quickly, it's something that we first have to just pump the brakes and slow down. And I think that it's more, the thing that I approach with with parents is how we get to see that it has taken a lifetime to get to this moment right now. And the faster that we think that we're going to change things, the more likely that we are using restriction. We're using control. We're using that diet culture. And I call it out all the time. I call it out because it's everywhere. But if we don't call it out, we think that it's just the way it is. We think it's just the way it has to be that we have to restrict and you know, get our kids to go out and run around, you know, every day and all of us. Yes, kids get to do that they get to be active. But the more that we push on it, that's diet culture, that's telling us that we need to push when there's pressure, that's when it's a recipe for disaster. And so how can we remove that pressure? And part of it starts off by removing the timeframe that we have to do this quickly.
Adrienne Youdim 24:15
So I feel like I kind of asked you this already, but I want to ask it in a different way maybe which is okay, so we don't want to restrict and even in my practice with adults, I talk about a mindset of abundance, like eat so much of the good stuff. So there's less room desire for the you know, the stuff that doesn't serve you. But that having been said, how do you manage? Well, I'll give you a personal anecdote My middle child when he was in preschool. This is something that my friends to this day make fun of me for. They were passing out graham crackers to the three year olds asked for seconds and so half the class had their hands up as four thirds maybe a quarter of the class. Last or less had their hands up asked for fourths we got down to, you know, my son, who was one of the last people hit his hand would have gone up. And so when I finally had to be like, Okay, no more offering, it was perceived as a restriction and knowing what I do my friends shows, oh, look, Adrian's putting our son on a diet, which, you know, I was not but well, maybe this is a conversation about the difference between restriction and boundaries? And how do you do that softly. So it doesn't feel like a restriction or control. It's a subtlety. I feel like I kind
Wendy Schofer 25:35
of use the words foundation and structure a lot more, just to kind of put it out there. Like, this is just what it is, you know, when we're offering graham crackers, we're going to offer once, maybe twice. But do we really need to offer six times like, yeah, of course. Of course, some kids are gonna be like, oh, yeah, I totally want that. I totally want it. And doesn't mean that what they're doing is wrong. It's just like, well, what kind of structure do we want to create around it, it doesn't mean that we're controlling, it means that what we're doing is just setting up that structure that environment, well, this is what we're doing around these meals, or around this portioning. I don't think of it as portioning as in, we're controlling it. But this is just the portion that we're offering.
Adrienne Youdim 26:26
The other part of bonds, it's kind of I'm sorry, I said it's kind of nuanced. There's subtleties there,
Wendy Schofer 26:33
there is there is. And the thing is that I keep on having that phrase come through my mind about Of course, of course, kids love certain foods. Of course, they want more of those foods that they enjoy. And it might be foods that they don't get to have all the time. And so when we go out to parties, when we go out to these different events, and they see something that they don't have all the time, just checking how we as parents are like, Oh, my God, I can't believe he's going to that. Well, of course he is, of course, I'm just trying to diffuse that. So I'm not making it mean more about how, you know, my kid doesn't have control, or I can't believe he's going for the sweets, again, another cupcake. Well, if it's there, of course, that's something if they're not used to it, you know, if it's something that they find so much joy, and that, of course they're going to but I also look at how can I build that along the way into the planning at home, like, hey, we enjoy cupcakes, let's plan for cupcakes. Let's make it so that it's not some kind of taboo food here. So that when we go off to the party, it's like, whoo, everything's going crazy. Here. I'm gonna cupcakes like crazy. Yeah, that's where I look at adding in, like, how can I add this in as opposed to taking away, adding it into our family plan? But like you said, that mindset of abundance, like, I want to eat all these veggies? How can I add in all of those veggies? Not about what we're trying to cut out on the side here? What do we want more of that seems to be really a language that works well with the kids. Because we're adding more fun, we're adding in things that they love looking at movement, not as something that's all about, oh, I can't believe I got a sweat and gotta go out and do this. But what is it that you enjoy? Let's do more of that.
Adrienne Youdim 28:26
I'm curious, as I was listening to you speak, I'm curious how you manage your own pantry. You know, there are of course, people who say don't have it in the house, right? So that it's not a constant temptation. There are other people that say, have it in the house so that they're not so deprived that they go seek it elsewhere. But I'll tell you, I have three kids in my household and even me and my husband, my husband can see certain things in the pantry and just don't care. If it's in my pantry. I'm going to eat it. How do you manage that? Right? How do you what do you think about food queues and food availability and how that plays into the whole mix?
Wendy Schofer 29:08
It has evolved so much over time, honest to goodness, it's a great question. I gotta tell you, it comes back to me first, there was the biggest controls that I had on the pantry. Were because of me, because of my ability to control what I was eating to say no, to get a portion and not take the whole bag. One of my stories I don't know that this is if I want to say is the shame story or what it is. But I'm so embarrassed that I have a daughter who just loves to bake. She's amazing Baker, amazing the arguments that we would have about please don't bake anymore. And I didn't want it to be something about how I was seeing her grow or about her relationship and I realized as I was seeing it more and more It's because she would make these delicious baked goods. And then I would eat them. And it's like, okay, we can't have any more baking right now, or we have to make a half recipe or you have to make sure that they go somewhere else. It wasn't about her. But I can see how she was getting the messaging about there was something wrong about baking these very delicious foods. It was actually my issue, and I had to address it first for me, so that it wasn't something that was keeping her from doing what she was wonderful at, what she really enjoyed what brought her so much joy, because then she could share that with the entire community. That's something I had to address it first now in our actual pantry, that is something that we've gone back and forth on how much do we want the cookies, the chips to be available? Is it better for us to have the smaller portion sizes so that we can kind of have that auto check and be like, Alright, hey, I've gone through one bag, it's done time to do this. Let me ask, Am I still hungry? Do I want to go back for more or not? Because when we have the big bags, I might not stop and ask. Until I'm at the bottom of it. We've gone back and forth on it. I think that we found pretty a pretty balanced approach right now. Where once it's in the house, it's all open, all fair game, you know, whatever we put in the pantry anybody can have. And we've demystified it, so that it's not like it's taboo, like you can't eat it. Some things will disappear much faster than others. It's just the way it is. I can't say that there's one right answer about it. Other than I think that that word demystifying, which doesn't really mean anything in particular, like, it's just kind of like, we've removed this fascination about having the cookies or having the cupcakes or whatever it is, when they're, they're cool, let's enjoy them. They're not always there. They're not always there. And that's okay, too. So, you know, a lot of times when I'm going up to the grocery store, I'll just asked, Hey, what do we want? What are the sweets? Or what are the treats? Or what do we want to have over this week, and I'll get some input. And I gotta tell you, it's funny how often those things actually stay in the cabinet. It's not like you bring them home, and everybody devours them when they're gone. So I think it's just something as we've been changing our relationship over the past couple of years with our food, I've seen that evolve. It's not that there's one thing that was done. Other than Well, I said yes to baking. It's, it's so stinking good.
yes to baking guess it's so stinking. Good. I have, well, I, I have a husband who started, well, he'd always baked bread, but really, you know, leveled it up during the pandemic. So I think maybe your husband and my husband and your daughter need to go bowling together. Cuz we, we . We had that pan out in our household.
I wanted to touch on something you said though, which is, which is the messages we send. Inadvertently to our kids, because I think people don't realize that it's not just the things that we say to our children, but often the things that we say and do to ourselves that are modeled to our children that give them these messages about their bodies.
And so often in the patients that. Come to me now, they will. Well, many of them will say that their parents were controlling around food, but many of them will say that actually their parents didn't ever address it directly. But it was learned from the way in which they addressed their own, their own relationships with food or with their bodies and how that was modeled to them.
Everybody's D. With their experience and where we get different messages from, I gotta tell you, my sister and I have had these conversations about like, what is it from when we were growing up? How did we get different messages or not? And I gotta tell you, we had a very open approach to food in our home.
Um, we can't tell you that there was any particular type of eating style. It was like, whatever we had all this stuff, we didn't really have any concerns with it. But we grew up in an area in, uh, Pennsylvania, Dutch country. So all the meats, all the cheeses, all the sweets, all of it, it was there. And my sister and I both moved away for college and then for our careers.
And I think that what actually happened is that we started thinking. As our path was different. The way that we started to eat as we left home was different. Our weight was different from those that we saw around us, that we started thinking that this was the right way to do it. It wasn't that there was something that we were doing or learning.
From our parents, our community early on that really influenced it. It was more of that contrast over time. And it's fascinating cuz my sister and I went to two different places afterwards, although we are, I swear we're twins, but we're not. , it's amazing how it just kind of came up. But we found, found that we were both.
Very much thinking that we had to control what it is that we ate, how we moved so that we could continue on this healthy path that we saw ourselves on. It was almost like the opposite. Like we were discarding what it was that we had learned from our early childhood about no pressure around eating it's there.
If you want it, if you. You know, I, I give a lot of credit, um, to to my, you know, early years in the Navy, you know, having to run, having to be weighed and to prove that I was fit. And it was like this big badge of honor that I thought that I had to do that along the way, but that is something that I noticed how that was starting to influence.
My family. So it wasn't necessarily what I got from my family that way, but I could see how that was starting to influence my own children. And they just pick up on things. It's not necessarily what we say to them. A lot of times I hear parents talk about how well I can't eat this food because you know, this cupcake is gonna go straight to a certain body part.
Mm-hmm well, that may not be something that you're saying to your child, but they hear. They're processing. They're trying to figure out what that means in their world. And so that's something that we address again, like what is it that we, as parents are thinking about this food, about this activity, the exercise, our own bodies, what is it that we're thinking?
That relationship that we have with our own bodies and then how are we modeling that for our kids? Cause that's where they pick it up. They're watching. And it really speaks to the, the longevity of all this and also to the process, which I hope will take pressure off of parents and not make them feel more pressure that this really is a journey.
It sounds cliche, but it really is a process. And, and so we can't expect. For it to be one and done figured out and sorted out, you know, in one moment in time, it really is something that is this relationship with food in our bodies really takes different forms over different times. And that should take the pressure off right.
Of, of having to fix it, you know, in a discriminate or finite timeframe. I hope, I think a lot of what we're talking about here. Can be really uncomfortable. I think so much of it can be misunderstood if we don't, you know, flat out address it. It's not that what you're doing is wrong. It's not that what we're doing as parents is taking our kids on the wrong path.
We get to see how it is. We've gotten to this place right now, where we wanna go with our kids in the future and it may be very uncomfortable right now. But it does not mean that there's something that has gone wrong, that we've failed as parents. We are learning. And yes, as we're talking about the, the, the role that we can play as parents to help our kids, it doesn't mean that you have the whole weight of the world on your shoulders here.
And we can use that's correct. Right. And we can course correct. Like it, it's not right. We can make amends, we can pivot do it differently. What I see is it's actually a place where. We get to actually have some impact with our children and not all, you know, saying about it's all about the food environment.
It's all about social media. It's all about the messaging, the culture, everything that's out there. Our culture is at home. And so we can also start by saying no to the diet culture. We can start by saying, this is how we're going to approach it here in our home. This is how we've done it in the past.
Maybe we wanna do it a little bit differently. That can be really uncomfortable. Especially at the beginning where it's like, oh my gosh, I got all this. No, no, just one step at a time. One step, but we can truly change that course and help our kids, our ourselves, quite honestly. And that's where it's working for the whole family.
So I wonder, and I imagine someone who's out there listening to this who has a concern about their child maybe saying to themselves. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All the kumbaya stuff. But I want something tangible. I, I want something practical and I in my practice talk about compassionate and actionable weight loss.
And also the podcast is called health bite because I like to give people little bites or, you know, tangible takeaways. So what would be your recommendation? Like where should somebody start? What are some practical tips? If somebody's, you know, marinating in all this and would like to make some changes in their house?
What would you suggest? Absolutely. I would start by looking at what can you add completely different approach than what think about as far as diet culture and restricting and cutting things back. It's really about what can you add? Easy things that come up a lot. How can you add more water? How can we look at sleep and add more sleep?
Cause it's something we haven't talked about at all today, but I gotta tell you sleep always comes first. If we have chronic sleep deprivation that has one heck of an effect on our hormones, on our emotions, on our eating habits. And I thought sleep when you said ad, that was the first thing, to be honest, that popped in my head.
Yeah. a way in which we can nourish right outside of food, but it really does impact our eating practices. Yeah. And that's where I just start by adding things in because so much of the messaging has been about removing and nobody wants to have things taken away from them. That's why our kids are like pushing back and why our kids are, you know, trying to sneak things, you know, into their rooms because they're afraid of losing it.
They're afraid of it being taken away from them. What can we add? And that's a question that I kind of pose it pretty openly to a lot of families, meaning open ended. Is it sleep? Is it maybe some more structure that we can add planning out the meals? So that kids know when the next meal is going to be, instead of that I'm starving and everybody's like frantic and looking for something, you know, for food right away.
Hey, you know what? I already planned this out. I got you. It's another 30 minutes until we get dinner. We're good. I got you for 30 minutes. When we start adding in that structure and planning it out, it can actually do a lot to be able to help diffuse that frenzy that we get into. It's like, oh my gosh, everything's going loose here.
all looking for it. The reactivity around food and our choices. Well, this has been a lovely conversation. And I think again, very timely and I think very helpful. Is there anything else that kind of you think about in this work that you do or that you think is important to share before we, we close out our, our conversation for today.
One of the things that I learned along the way, which. Never taught in medicine. Okay. it was totally from a coaching perspective, but it means so much to me is, you know, looking at what kind of energy are we approaching, whatever it is that we wanna do. And so, as I'm thinking about, as we're talking about changing habits, routines, structure, approach in your house, Thinking about what kind of energy that you have.
It comes back to when you were talking about that timeframe. Cuz how often we feel like if we wanna do this quickly, there's a pressure, there's a rush. And we feel that pressure, a rush and things kind of get all jumbled up, cuz it's like, oh my gosh, you know, I gotta do this now. And I gotta cut it real back.
And like that pressure really changes things. And one of the things that I heard very early on and repeated is about approaching from. Maybe a softer kind of feeling. And one that I always go to is love. How can I approach this from that place, that feeling of love. And for me, love how it's very different from that pressure is that it doesn't have a set timeframe.
It can have some flexibility. It's not this rigid rule. And so how can that be something that can help you as you're approaching where you wanna go? Over the next several weeks, months, years, lifetime with your family. And I keep that in the back of my mind. This is something I have on replay because if I start noticing that I'm feeling kind of pressured, I'm like, whoa, what's going on here?
Let me slow down. Let me slow down. There's something else going on. And how can I open that up for just the love? It feels much more nurturing, like you were saying before, nurturing for the long. that's what makes it sustainable. And, and it's a feeling, right? Because it's, it's an internal feeling because of course we all love our children, but that's not what we're talking about.
We're talking about that feeling inside that can feel chaotic or, you know, almost disorienting, disorienting. What you feel inside is really what we're talking. It's something, once you find it, you're like, oh, I wanna take this with me. I wanna use this in other places. and for the listeners out there who are intrigued and who would like to get more information from you, perhaps work with you, how can they learn more about you?
How can they connect? I welcome you. Okay. so a couple of things. So I'm the founder of family and focus, which is housed at, uh, Wendy Schofer , md.com. Family and focus is my program name. And I do have a couple of resources. One is my podcast, which I'm. Not very creative. It is family and focus with Wendy Schofer MD
So join me for the, for the podcast. Uh, I am celebrating my one year anniversary this week, so I can say that we've hit this milestone. I also have a free minicourse. Uh, that's available right now. It is called weight loss 1 0 1 for your whole family. If you're like, Hey, hold on a minute. Were you talking about weight loss?
It's actually answering the question that I kept on hearing from parents. Where is weight loss? 1 0 1. Where do I start? I was like, oh, let me help you out with this. So it's taking all those most common questions that parents are asking about helping their kids and navigating all these weight questions.
And I start answering all the questions, um, in each of the sections with answers. They're a little bit different than you're gonna be, you know, hearing in your typical medical office. So please come on over. Um, that is also on the website as well. Weight loss 1 0 1. I also have a, uh, Facebook community as well, because you are not alone.
Your concerns about, you know, how can we help our family navigate all these questions about. Weight and health and feeding and movement and all of it. So come join my community once again, family and focus consistency. I love it. We'll make sure to, to put links to all of that in the show notes. And again, Wendy, I wanna thank you for spending this almost hour with me.
It was really a valuable conversation. I really enjoyed it. Thanks so much. It was totally my pleasure. Thank you so much. Well, that's all for this week. I wanna thank you for your time. Time is our most precious resource and asset, and I appreciate you spending some of that resource with me. If you wanna hear more from Dr.
Wendy head over to her website wendySchofer md.com, we're going to link it all in the show notes where you can subscribe to her weekly newsletter family in focus. And sign up for a free consultation with her to learn more about how you can help yourself and your family. She's also the host of her own podcast, family and focus with Dr.
Wendy Schofer , which is found on apple podcast as well as anywhere else. You podcast. And finally, I wanna encourage you to head onto my website, Dr. Adrian, you deem.com. Please sign up for the newsletter there for weekly health tips. You can get, uh, information on the podcast as well as some exciting events that are coming up in the future.
Like I always say knowledge is power and I have lots of resources to help empower you, inspire you and educate you so that you can live a happier and healthy life. Have a great week. And I look forward to seeing you again here on health bite next week. Bye now.