In light of The Atlanta Video by on childhood obesity  I imagine  many parents  are starting to rethink how to approach the childhood obesity problem. I applaud what they are trying to do and yes parents need to hear how badly kids feel. Although as a child clinician with a sub specialty in childhood obesity  the video does address what I hear all the time. However I think the video is also shaming kids and in addition doesn’t really educate parents and kids how to respond emotionally to those really hard feelings in a helpful way.


Its  great that strong for life is trying to increase awareness of Healthy eating and activity, it’s much needed and helpful.

However as with all the other obesity programs in last 10 years, including the first lady, strong for life is continuing  to ignore or not understand  the Emotional component and Food Mood connection in regards to overeating.

All the hard work, time and money spent will not have the impact everyone is  aiming for without addressing the emotional reasons why parents overfeed and kids overeat.

Denial is powerful defense and at first no one wanted to admit there is an obesity epidemic. Now no one wants to admit the emotional addiction component. If you enjoy music here is a song I wrote called stinkin thinkin about denial

You can read the Book My Feelings are Hungry and use the Feeling Town Map at the back of the book daily to teach families the
emotional skills needed to improve overeating.

I wanted to help families teach Emotional Intelligence to their children which would also help break the food mood connection. Here is a video example of Kids Talking It Out ” Welcome to Feeling Town. ”

Most of our country does not know how to address the emotional component of childhood obesity to find true solutions. Here are 24 tips for Healthy Feelings =Healthy Eating  . In addition lets not forget the family dynamics that contribute to obesity.

I am a child and family psychotherapist for 20 years with a sub specialty in child obesity. Every one is afraid of the underlying emotions that make kids and families overeat. Its hard to find solutions when you are looking in the wrong place. You can find me on twitter @listentomepleas here on my website and  youtube

From clinical experience, I know that without addressing the emotional component of any childhood ailment, true solutions will remain out of reach.

Most parents think they can have it all — and do it all well. However, the rise in childhood obesity and the troubling psychiatric statistics demonstrate that our kids are suffering because their needs are not being met. They often turn to acting out and/or medicating their feelings with food.

  • The good news is that I have developed easy and effective ways to do better, and help our kids. I have had great success with kids and families in 20 years of practice, and have created many innovative techniques that have a dramatic positive impact on behavior and  I share these techniques in my books and songs.

My vision is to raise awareness of the psychological factors that contribute to obesity, despite everyone’s fears about the emotional component. Knowledge is power, and without knowledge of how feelings contribute to acting out and overeating, behavior can’t change. While it’s true that kids have too much fast food, too much homework and not enough recess or physical activity, these problems cannot be solved without dealing with the underlying emotional issues. For example we  need to get rid of the heroin coming across and the border and all the unhealthy food but taking away the supply doesn’t help  the addict deal with psychological and physical manifestations of the addiction.

Once a baby or young  child (or an adult) gets in the habit of eating because they don’t know how they feel, or to hide their emotions, they have made the food-mood connection. The eating just covers up how the child really feels about his or her life, relationships, activities, friends, school and more.

The eating also keeps the child from looking for new solutions and really solving the problems in a healthier way. Figuring out the underlying feelings and talking about them helps your child grow into a teen and young adult who can process how he or she feels rather than one who eats for comfort.

Help your child recognize the food-mood connection by pointing out the difference between physical and emotional hunger. We teach our children to walk, talk and read. If we also teach them to recognize and express their feelings effectively, they won’t need to medicate their emotional needs with food, drugs or other behaviors.

Things to say:

“I notice that you’re really hungry.” Are your Feelings Hungry or is your Tummy Hungry, I know its hard to tell the difference?  If they’re begging, try saying this: “I notice you’re asking for a lot of snacks right now. It makes me wonder if something is bothering you.” I wonder what you really need? Some hugs some kisses or me  listening to you?
•    “Did something happen today?” When they answer, “Nothing” or “I don’t know,” which is not unusual, accept that as the truth.

Most kids are not adept at expressing their feelings in language only in behavior and overeating.. Take out the feeling town map at the back of the book “My Feelings Are Hungry” this will help give kids choices as to what might be  wrong. Its always a series of events. Another fun idea is to dance and sing to learn about emotions with the song “My Feelings Are Hungry”

Even if introducing the idea is  as far as you get at first, at least you’ve started the conversation about the connection between perceived hunger and emotional states such as sadness, hurt, anger, anxiety and fear. At first, children usually need to be given choices of possible feelings to help them learn to identify them.

Its a surprise to most parents that feelings could get hungry?   My Feelings are Hungry is the first book to ever address some of the key emotional issues that make kids want to eat more  . My Feelings are Hungry can help win the  fight against childhood obesity, in helping everyone understand that underneath all behaviors are un-resolved feelings!

If parents devote even 5 minutes a day to their children’s emotional health using the Feeling Town Map at the Back of the Book “My Feelings Are Hungry”, the result will be positive changes in behavior,  attitude and overeating.

The Book and Song 

Join Ava Parnass, a.k.a. “The Kid Whisperer,” author, songwriter and child therapist  who specializes in marrying Entertainment, Emotional Intelligence and Time-In not Time-Out parenting for kids. Ms Parnass helps kids figure out how they feel through playing, talking ,listening,reading, singing and dancing so behavior improves!

24 Tips for Healthy-Feelings=Healthy-Eating, My Feelings R Hungry  Written by Ava Parnass
To buy the Downloadable pdf for $2.00 click the Download button here

Next Post How to help your kids and what to say ,when they say “Mommy I am Fat”


6 Responses to Address the emotional component of childhood obesity, so true solutions can be found

  1. Carlos Prive says:

    Good post and straight to the point. I am not sure if this is really the best place to ask but do you guys have any ideea where to employ some professional writers? Thank you 🙂

  2. Naomi says:

    Great blog post. I think one thing I know about hunger is that children say too often that they are hungry when in fact they are bored. If my children say that to me I find them something to do to take their attention away from food.

  3. aparnass says:

    Thanks for commenting;) Distracting is great, I do the too!
    But I also am not a big believer in the word bored , I always ask what feelings lurk underneath bored or I’m hungry as I am sure you do too:) I get out feeling town map and have them look it over:)
    I am looking forward to reading your book!!!

  4. seo says:

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!

    • aparnass says:

      Thanks appreciate the compliments..Sorry it didnt go thru but thanks for taking the has happened to me too , I now when I remember copy what I write before sending to re-paste if it doesnt go thru..Best Ava

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