The World of well-being

H e ’ s n o w i z a r d, b u t D r . Oz s h a r e s h i s w i s d o m o n l i v i n g h e a lt h y i n t h e 2 1 s t c e n t u ry.
b y am b e r n as r u l l a
Here’s a fun fact: North America’s most famous
physician, Dr. Mehmet Oz, falls asleep on the
job every day. “Naps are fantastic!” says the
father of four from his New Jersey home. As
host of his own program, “The Dr. Oz Show”
and publisher of his newly minted health
magazine, The Good Life, he can pretty much
do what he wants. On the eve of becoming a
grandfather, Dr. Oz shares his observations
on family, health and happiness.
What are some common health concerns parents tell you about?
The advancement of the digital world has hindered boys, I think, more than
girls. It gets harder to get kids to connect and focus on the values parents want
to pass along. This is not a rail against the digital world, which is valuable;
it creates stimulation in ways that historically would have been left to parents.
From a physical perspective girls are seeing puberty earlier. We’re not sure
why. It could be because some girls are gaining weight earlier. It could be from
environmental stimuli, toxins and endocrine-stimulating agents in water and
food. None of that’s been proven. It’s an observation.
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Film star and racing enthusiast Steve McQueen invented (and patended) the bucket seat in 1969.
You mentioned girls getting heavier.
In Canada, 30 percent of children
are classified as overweight or obese.
In bygone years it was difficult for kids
to spend a lot of time indoors. The usual
adage from parents was, ‘Go outside and
play until it gets dark.’ I don’t know any
parent who does that now. In the academic
environment we’ve crafted for our kids, we
expect them to stay inside, study more and
specialize. They rarely go outside and play
sports. Schools no longer have as much
emphasis on athleticism. Plus, many of
the foods we’re eating are addictive; they
are high in salt and sugar. Potato chips in
particular hit the brain like crack cocaine.
We have easier access to simple carbohydrates (fructose and glucose) and they’ve
become staple foods. With the breakdown
of family meals, kids imbibe huge amounts
of carbs without nutrition. The child and
adolescent brain is not looking for calories,
it’s looking for nutrients.
What are the top things parents
can do to help their family be as healthy
as possible?
On the emotional side, if you look at adults who
are happy, the most important variable appears
to be that they think they were loved as kids.
There are probably scenarios where the parents
really didn’t love the kids but the kids thought
they were, and there are scenarios where the kids
absolutely and truly were loved by the parents,
but they didn’t sense it.
That’s tangled. So how do parents
raise emotionally vibrant kids?
Kids crave attention and making them appreciate that attention is a manifestation of love. This
includes encouraging gestures – it’s not just, ‘Hey
you’re the best’. It’s positive feedback. ‘Keep going
at it’ or “You’re doing fine” is hugely valuable,
especially when kids are having emotional meltdowns. The second tip is making sure you use all
your senses. Even with affection. Kids hear, they
see, they touch, so stimulate them.
We try not to say ‘no’, which is another child-raising tip. There’s usually a deeper curiosity a child
has that you can expand upon. Try: ‘That electricity plug has incredible power. See those black
power cables out there? If you touch that, it will
hurt you badly so we don’t want to do that’. As
opposed to ‘No! Don’t do that’, which is an easier
and fear-evoked response but it doesn’t answer
their curiosity. They are not putting their finger in
to disobey you – which saying ‘no’ implies – but
because they wanted to know what’s going on
inside that plug.
What mistakes do you see parents
making often?
We all make a lot! A common error is believing
you determine everything about how a kid turns
out. There’s clearly a genetic element to how kids
Each year about 450 men die of breast cancer in America.
"The Dr. Oz Show" conveys health info with the help of fun visual effects, audience members and guest
celebs, including Jessica Alba (opposite page) and the cast of Tyler Perry's The Best Man: from left to
right, Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau and Terrence Howard. The result is a unique brand
of easy-to-understand health advice. The Dr. Oz Show airs weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on CTV.
deal with life. Some have more anxiety. Some are
faster. Some are quicker at math while others are
better at English. I see parents sometimes getting
in the way when they have aspirations for their
child that don’t quite match that child’s skill set.
Second, when we helicopter parent, when we
get in the way of kids making mistakes, when we
don’t let them fail and discount any failings, we
actually do them a great disservice.
Ultimately what gives a child the confidence to
thrive in the world is the knowledge that they can
fix whatever mistakes they make. There’s also a
rational understanding that in order for them to
be truly self-actualized, they have to be able to fall
down. And realize it’s OK.
What is your parenting philosophy?
My wife Lisa (of 29 years) and I always try to
remember that kids won’t treat themselves the
way you treat them. They’ll treat themselves the
way you treat yourself. It’s important to make sure
they see both of us in an uplifting, self-fulfilling
fashion. I always felt my main goal as a parent was
to make the children feel safe so they could learn.
We know that kids who don’t feel safe don’t learn
as well; it actually shuts down their hippocampus,
which is the learning centre of the brain, so
they lack the ability to deposit short-term
memory. Kids in abused households and
traumatic environments have a very difficult
time laying down memories.
Hearing that makes me want
to give my child everything.
I say this to my kids all the time: ‘When you give
your kid something that you didn’t have when you
were growing up, you take from them something
you did have.’ For instance, my parents would
fly us to Turkey to see their family and we had to
stop in every city in Europe to cobble together the
trip because we couldn’t afford the non-stop plane
ticket. But now, I take my kids first class. They
don’t appreciate how far it is and how unique it is.
It’s just 10 hours in an airplane. I don’t want them
to have to take buses from Bulgaria to Istanbul
like I did, but I learned a lot on those trips.
Are there things you’d recommend
for your grandchildren that you
didn’t do for your children?
I think of all the parties I missed and the events
I leapfrogged because I was juggling too many
things. I was a firm believer in multitasking
because it seemed more efficient, but I’m now
convinced that it’s a myth and that none of us can
multitask. There’s a lot of data now confirming
that when you “multitask”, you serially task. So
skip the hospital party and be with the kid or skip
the birthday party and stay at the hospital.
How do you juggle a TV show, four
children, and your new magazine –
Dr. Oz The Good Life?
In many ways I’m a hermit. I don’t do a lot of
crazy things. When I
do go out, I don’t do five
events. I get to work at 7
a.m. We tape our morning show. I have lunch.
I’m like an old man – I
take a nap every day. I
do an afternoon show,
get briefed for the next
day and then I go home.
That’s my day.
British-Pakistani-Canadian writer Amber Nasrulla lives in
Orange County, California with her seven-year-old son
and husband. They watch Dr. Oz episodes. A lot. .com