Teen People, This Is 4 U

The BrainWeighve app points out that overflowing brain energy is likely to be burned off in a useless and even harmful way, like nail biting or — you guessed it — overeating. What can cause this counterproductive behavior? Well, for one thing…

Not being able to make a decision can produce overflow brain energy…

What does it take to make a decision? As the app suggests, a good start is to create two lists, the for and the against; the pro and the con. From the different lengths of the two lists, you’ll get a rough idea of the problem’s shape. One thing you will notice is, there will be varying reasons for things being on either list. Say you’re thinking about quitting a stupid job. In the column for YES QUIT the first entry is “hate the boss.” That much is clear.

Then, things get more complicated. In the column for NO DON’T QUIT one item is “keep up car insurance” and another is “get my own apartment.” But are they of equal weight? Depending on where you live, being without wheels is a grueling fate. Keeping a car on the road is definitely worth putting up with a boss you wouldn’t spit on if he was on fire. And comparatively speaking, living at home isn’t really that bad.

And there it is

One of those things, mobility, may not be an absolute life-or-death need, but it certainly is a major issue. The other thing, getting your own place, is probably not primarily a need, but more of a want. In another year, it might be more of a need.

One of the gigantic skills of existence is to figure out the difference between needs and wants. It applies throughout life, and in every facet of living. To distinguish between a want and a need is a talent that few are born with, and most of us have to work hard to develop.

Needs can be met. Wants never end.

Needs are permanent parts of our hard wiring, and their main feature is that they can be fulfilled and satisfied. Maybe not permanently, of course. Your body needs water, pretty much every day. But thirst and other needs can be quenched, for various periods of time.

Wants are transitory, they come and go, and they will gaslight you. Wants will whisper in your ear, “Just satisfy me, and you will live happily ever after.” But they are lying. Wants are like a whack-a-mole game. As soon as you knock one down by caving into it, another want pops up to distract and torment you.


After discerning between a want and a need, the next step is to decide which one to chase. Concentrating on needs is definitely a more useful place to put your energy. If you get this figured out, the good vibes can carry over into other areas of life. But wait, there’s more. When something carries over from elsewhere, to impact the current dilemma, it’s a weirdly opposite situation that can lead to the same positive result.

For example, do you excel in some other area of life, like music or sports? Then, whether you realize it or not, you already have a head start. If you are any good at all, at some specific skill, this means you have already figured out a few things about the difference between wants and needs. Congratulations, you are a winner! Because you can carry that knowledge over into reclaiming your own body.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Jan Tik/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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