Suggestions and Sharing

The world is full of triggers of all kinds. For one person, the very sight of a hospital can set off their post-traumatic stress syndrome, and trouble ensues. For another, a picture of an ice cream cone can bring back the memory of when, as a small child, they dropped their ice cream cone and their mother was embarrassed to go back and ask the nice lady behind the counter to replace it, because she couldn’t afford to buy another one and had to beg for charity. But she did it anyway, out of love, but it ruined her day and certainly ruined her child’s enjoyment of the treat.

So, the innocent ice cream cone got all tangled up in the child’s mind with shame about clumsiness, alarm over having upset his mother, and mortification over their poverty, and about 99 other things. Is it any wonder that, in later years, a picture of a cone will stir up an emotional storm? Or that some crazy wild part of him or her will insist that he or she is now entitled to as much ice cream as they want, whenever they want it?

And what can BrainWeighve do about that?

The app asks you to think carefully and honestly about the circumstances that seem to actually force you into eating the wrong things and too much of them. It’s an opportunity to learn a lot about yourself, and to help yourself claw your way, inch by inch, out of the quicksand. It asks you to make a plan. Next time you are emotionally triggered, how will you handle it? To be prepared with a plan, a whole suggestion list of plans, is important because when you are in the midst of things and feeling messed up, your brain is in a ditch. It can’t function.

Athletes practice a motion over and over to develop “muscle memory,” which might be more like nerve memory or something else entirely. The point is, when the situation is dire, you don’t have to stop and wonder “Which hand do I throw a ball with?” You just know. But we don’t have muscle memory for troublesome life situations, so it helps to have a handy list.

Not everything works for everybody; not everything works every time. But having a list is better than having nothing. Start off with that positive thought. Faced with a situation, write in the plan you will use, or choose from a list of possible ideas on how to proceed. The app will also remember this information, and keep track of what actions succeed or fail.

Anonymous sharing

There are ways to stop the buildup of overflow nervous energy in your brain, to short-circuit the displacement mechanism that causes overeating. That knowledge is in the app for you. It has been, and will continue to be, crowdsourced; and you can be part of this, if you choose. When a tip shared by a stranger enriches your life, that’s spectacular. Equally valuable is the chance to return the favor and lift others out of their swamps of confusion. In difficult times, the app asks if you would like to anonymously share ideas. (Apparently, you can change your mind about it and un-share, too.)

This is purely voluntary, but it might help other teens to know what situations you are having difficulty with and how you are solving this.

One might say that today’s kids are the most sharing generation ever. Day and night, they fling their thoughts and feelings into the everlasting Internet. Aren’t they used to self-revelation? That would all depend. There are people whose online personae reflect their inner selves, and then there are the other kind. Someone might project a spiffy clean image and harbor one horrible secret. Another person, who seems like a hellraiser or a wastrel, might quietly contribute to the good of society in some amazing way. BrainWeighve participants have the opportunity to make important contributions.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Jelene Morris/CC BY 2.0

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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