DR. WALLACE: My mom is unhappy with me, even though I am a very responsible teen. I get solid grades, and I've had some part-time jobs. I stay out of trouble. Why is my mom unhappy? She thinks I'm a "wolf" because I eat my meals really, really fast. She is always telling me to slow down and stop wolfing down my food!
I learned this at the restaurant I used to work at. Sometimes, there would be a mistake made with an order. When this happened, the lead cook would tell me I could eat the dish — which was fresh and good, except it had a sauce on it that was supposed to have been withheld. And I was glad to get it! These meals were fantastic since I was working in a fancy French restaurant. The only thing was that I had to eat the whole plate of food very fast so that I could quickly return to the restaurant floor to continue my job as an assistant server.
The way I see it, the calories in any given plate of food are the same no matter how fast you eat them. I realize my mother would like to see eat my meals at home slower, but I've kind of gotten into the habit of eating fast — and I like it that way.
Am I doing my body any harm by eating my food so fast? I'm an active teen of normal weight, and I have never had to worry about any unwanted pounds on my frame. — Teen Wolf, via email
TEEN WOLF: Eating slowly, for some people, can be an effective way to keep off unwanted pounds because it allows the brain and stomach to stay in communication with each other. When a person eats slowly, the brain can better gauge when the stomach has taken in sufficient nourishment. When you eat food very quickly, you leave yourself open to simply shoveling in extra food, even if your stomach is full. The result, for some people, is extra weight gain.
In your case, this does not seem to present a potential weight problem. A few decades in the future, you may have different results.
At this time, I do suggest you take your mother's request to heart and slow down your pace at home, especially with her home-cooked meals. Pace yourself, and enjoy a little conversation with your family in between bites. I'm suggesting this to you as a way to improve your tableside manners, as your fast consumption abilities will often be looked upon as rude, even if you do not intend that to be the case.
Should you find yourself in a future restaurant job where you're offered a delicious "mistake" that a chef does not want to waste, go ahead and use your "wolf" skills there — and there only. Don't make it a habit of eating really fast in front of your family or your future dates. You'll come off as much more of a gentleman if you take your time.
PARENTS USUALLY DRIVE UNHAPPY HOUSEHOLDS
DR. WALLACE: I'm a teenager who is very unhappy living in my house because my parents are always fighting and arguing. I want to move away.
One of my friends said he left his house and moved in with his grandparents because his parents fought constantly. My friend also told me that his parents said they haven't had one argument or disagreement since he left, and that their marriage is perfect.
This has me thinking, could I be the cause of my parents' fighting? — Unhappy Teen, via email
UNHAPPY TEEN: In the great majority of marital disagreements, the children are totally blameless, and I trust this is the case in both your current household and that of your friend.
It's almost always the husband and wife who are incompatible, and at times, when looking for the cause of the difficulty, they may blame the children. But from my experience, the marital problems arise from deeper adult relationship issues. Once in a while, a household will devolve into chaos due a disagreement over how to discipline a particularly troublesome teen, but based upon your letter, I do not feel you fit into that category.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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