Most people who email me asking for weight loss tips are surprised to find that I respond to almost everyone – even if it’s just to tell them that their diet sucks and they need to fix it.
But last week I received an interesting email from a 17 year old girl named Maryam.
Maryam actually wants to be healthier, she wants to lose weight, and she’s actually willing to change her diet to reach her goal, but because she lives at home with her family she’s basically forced to eat junk food all the time.
Here’s how she describes her situation:
I don’t have the chance or permission to exercise or choose what I eat. There’s kinda like a dictator in my house, that’s my gran, and she kinda hates everyone and makes us live like hell, so unless I never want to hear the end of it, I can’t just say ‘oh can I have avacado for breakfast’…we have to do as she says…normally I have the same thing for breakfast [toast] as I do every day, as I’ve been doing for a long time…
–Maryam N, 17 years old
Yikes – that sounds terrible!!
Even so, no matter how bad the situation is, I’d know that there are ALWAYS options.
If I were 17 living in a household full of diet dictators, and I had already tried being honest with them about my food preferences and it didn’t work, here’s what I’d do:
1) Lie to my family
It sounds f*cked up, but if my parents were forcing me to eat junk food, I’d say things like, “Every time I eat toast or cereal it hurts my stomach, I’d rather just have a piece of fruit for breakfast.” Eventually they’d probably stop making me eat grains.
2) Eat as much healthy food as possible at school
I would eat as much healthy food at school as possible:
I WOULD EAT – Meat, vegetables, nuts, and fruit
I WOULD AVOID – Dairy, grains, sugar, and sodas
I’d also ask my friends to bring me healthy food from their house.
3) Eat at my friend’s house
There’s nothing that your friend’s parents love to do more than feed their kid’s friends.
I’d hang out at my friends’ houses a lot, and when I got there I’d ask if they have anything healthy to eat.
4) Sneak healthy snacks
I’d buy healthy snacks (like fruit and nuts) on the way to and from school and I’d eat them in my room.
If I were being observed at every meal, I’d just have a few bites of the junk food they were forcing me to eat and then I’d say something like, “yeah, I’m just not that hungry today.”
5) Be patient and empathetic
The hardest thing for me to do, but the most important, is I’d be patient. I’d know I’d be in college soon and once I got there I’d be able to eat healthier.
And even though I’d feel frustrated that my family was essentially forcing me to eat unhealthy food, I’d try to understand where they were coming from.
After all, they probably don’t hate me or want me to be overweight. They probably just grew up in a very different world than we live in now. They probably grew up much poorer, they probably had to scrimp and save for everything they had, and if there was food on the table, they ate every bit of it because they had no other choice.
But that’s just me, that’s what I’d do if I were 17 and were forced to eat junk food.