Ep 256: Tricky Talks: Weight, Food, and Exercise

Juna Grata and Dr. Edward Phillips, co-authors of Food, We Need to Talk, join us to discuss controversial health topics. We cover how parents can skillfully navigate tricky talks on weight, exercise, and dieting.

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Full Show Notes

Raising teenagers in today's society comes with a myriad of concerns, from academic pressures to social dynamics, but one topic that lurks in the shadows of family life is how we approach the subject of food. For many parents, navigating discussions around eating habits, body image, and nutrition is like walking a tightrope, filled with potential missteps that could lead to unhealthy patterns. Yet, ignoring these conversations isn't the solution either. So, how can parents support their teens in developing a healthy relationship with food?

This week on Talking to Teens, we dive deep into the complexities of food, diet, and metabolism with Juna Grata and Dr. Edward Phillips, co-authors of "Food, We Need to Talk." Juna Grata, a Harvard graduate with a rich background in cognitive neuroscience and a personal journey through the maze of diet culture, and Dr. Edward Phillips, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, bring together their expertise and experiences to shed light on how to talk about food in a way that nurtures healthy habits.

Debunking the Metabolism Myth

One of the biggest misconceptions that surround our understanding of food and weight is metabolism. Juna and Edward unravel the science behind metabolism, clarifying common myths and explaining how our body's energy management system really works. They emphasize the role of muscle mass in metabolism and challenge the widely held belief that our metabolic rate dramatically slows down as we age.

The Problem with Diets

At the heart of many family tensions around food is the topic of dieting. With an overwhelming array of diets promising quick fixes, it's no wonder parents and teens find themselves caught in a cycle of restrictive eating. Our guests discuss why diets often fail in the long term and how they can lead to unhealthy eating habits and disorders.

Navigating Conversations About Weight

Juna shares her personal experiences with family comments about weight and how they contributed to an unhealthy relationship with food. Edward, as a parent, provides perspective on the fine line between promoting healthy habits and contributing to body image issues. They provide insights into how parents can foster a supportive environment that focuses on health and well-being rather than weight.

Foster a Healthy Food Environment

Our episode explores strategies for creating a home where healthy eating is the norm, not the exception. From shopping habits to meal preparation, Juna and Edward offer practical tips for encouraging nutritious choices without making food a source of conflict. They advocate for framing food as fuel, emphasizing its role in supporting our body’s needs, including enhancing physical performance and cognitive functions.

In the episode...

  • Understanding the role of fat in our diet and dispelling the myth of fat as the enemy
  • Strategies for involving teens in meal planning and cooking to promote healthier eating habits
  • The importance of modeling healthy habits and creating a non-restrictive food environment at home
  • How to support teens struggling with body image issues and foster body positivity
  • The impact of external influences, such as social media and peers, on teens’ eating habits and perceptions of health

Join us for an enlightening conversation that will equip you with the tools and knowledge to have meaningful dialogues about food with the teenagers in your life. Don’t forget to listen to the full episode and subscribe to Talking to Teens for more insights into the art and science of parenting teenagers.

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Edward M. Phillips
Edward M. Phillips
Dr. Edward M. Phillips is an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, and the founder and director of the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. He’d like to see you end your war with food by tuning into the new WBUR podcast “Food, We Need to Talk,” an Apple Podcasts favorite. He is also co-host of the award-winning WBUR podcast “The Magic Pill.”
Ep 256: Tricky Talks: Weight, Food, and Exercise
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