What a crazy paradox: Not long ago, young men, (ages 15 – 25) were considered to be at their peak of physical health. Older men would marvel at the physical capabilities of the younger males, longing to be able to have the strength and stamina they once possessed.
Now, many young men are incapable of playing sports, climbing hills, biking, or other activities that require sustained mental focus and physical exertion. There are lots of reasons why young men are not activating their innate desire to be outside and exercise their bodies.
Here are just a few explanations for the loss of vitality in young men:
1) digital domination – young men are hypnotized by the mania of media
2) healthcare medicalization – most young men are way-over medicated
3) nature deprivation – most young men become more passive sitting inside, at school
4) nutritional deterioration –young men have less energy from eating inferior quality food
It’s this last point I want to highlight, since it’s something parents can do to make a quick and significant impact.
Feed Your Son Nutrient Dense Food
Many young men - especially the challenging ones - tend to eat irregularly, drink caffeinated beverages (think: Red Bull) and eat nutritionally deficient foods (fast foods). It’s critical that you keep high quality foods and beverages in your home, both for your own health, and for that of your son.
A significant portion of the laziness and defiant behavior young men exhibit stems from their poor dietary habits. While you cannot control what they eat outside of the house you can have a strong influence on what they eat inside YOUR home.
To support their physical and mental development, young men need to consume great amounts of water and unsweetened juices, while eating natural foods that are filled with vitamins and minerals. This includes consuming lots of vegetables in the form of salads or hot meals. Meat proteins should be organic – devoid of inflammatory food preservatives and growth hormones.
The less white flour and sugar your son eats, the better. Too many young men fill up on simple carbohydrates that provide a brief burst of energy and then leave them feeling tired and irritable. Keep natural sweeteners in your house including maple syrup, honey and molasses. Bread and pastries should be made with whole wheat flour or, better yet, be gluten-free.
One of the biggest reasons that young men become irritable so easy is from their addiction to high-powered energy drinks – filled with caffeine and sugar.
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health clearly points out the relationship between the overconsumption of sweetened drinks and obesity in young people. According to the study, one out of three children in the United States are overweight or obese.
What to Do When Your Son Refuses to Eat Well
If your son refuses to eat the healthy food you provide in your home, don’t make it a problem. There’s no need to raise your voice or engage in nonproductive arguments.
In just a few sentences – without long psychological lectures – let your son know that he’s welcome to go get a job and buy whatever food he chooses to with the money he himself earns. Let him know that you’re excited that he’s at the age where he can begin his “individuation” process, by taking care of his own nutritional needs or desires.
Speak to him as if you were his mentor, not as his parent, (since a parent may be too “attached” to the outcome of your guidance). Be willing to calmly teach your son how to apply for a job. He may not go out and do this, but he’ll understand that you’re serious about his need to fend for himself.
Do not give into his childish demands that you provide low-quality food. Continue to eat healthy in your home, knowing that he’ll continue his junk food habit outside of the home – at school and when hanging out with his friends. You can’t do anything about this, so just relax about it.
REMEMBER: parenting is all about consistently modeling the values you want your son to learn. Take good care of yourself by eating healthy foods. At some point in his life, your son will probably eat the same way.
Just don’t be attached to the timeframe.
Photo modified from Flickr/Paul Li
Originally posted on The Good Men Project:http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/teach-your-son-to-master-his-territory-dtv/#sthash.nAuJTYcv.dpuf