Done with Dieting Episode #147: Do You Have Peter-Pan Syndrome?

Peter Pan Syndrome

In today’s upbeat and eye-opening episode, We’re taking a candid look at the “Peter Pan Syndrome,” that tendency we have to cling to youth in ways that actually make our health choices anything but youthful. I’ll take you back to when I was 22, equating fun with a whole lot of unhealthy habits, and lay bare the biases and misconceptions we often have about what being young, ‘edgy,’ or ‘fun’ really means.

I’ll also dig into the hidden narratives in food marketing—ever notice how processed, unhealthy options get billed as ‘party foods,’ while anything healthy gets tagged as ‘boring’ or ‘old’? Through stories like a client of mine who was scared of losing her connection with her boyfriend by eating healthier, I’ll unfold the irrational ties we make between overeating, overdrinking, and this idea of defying aging.

But here’s the real meat of today’s talk—it’s all about empowerment and self-realization. I’m inviting you to take a hard look at how you want to think about eating well and caring for your body. Let’s break free from those narratives that aren’t doing us any favors and redefine what fun and youthfulness really mean—in terms of energy, vitality, and feeling amazing.

In this episode, I aim for you to realize that taking control of your health isn’t about resigning to getting old; it’s about truly living. It’s about embracing every age with wisdom and celebrating each stage of life with joy and fulfillment that’s genuinely ageless.

Chapter Summaries:

Redefining Aging, Fun, and Responsibility (0:00:04) 

Exploring the Peter Pan syndrome, I uncover how unhealthy habits are marketed as fun and how to redefine health, joy, and vitality.

Embracing Aging With Grace and Vitality (0:10:26)

Question beliefs around aging, health, and vitality; embrace aging with grace and wisdom; live life to the fullest.

Continuing the Conversation (0:21:06) 

Challenge societal expectations and create a life of joy, health, and possibilities without conforming.

“Embrace aging as a journey of wisdom and vitality, and challenge the narrative that equates youthfulness with unhealthy habits. Rediscover joy, energy, and the vibrant life that awaits you.” – Elizabeth Sherman

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

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What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • The episode discusses the impact of unhealthy habits and the misconception that indulging in them equates to youthfulness.
  • Food’s significant role in relationships and identity is explored, highlighting the fear of losing bonds formed through shared indulgence.
  • The focus shifts to embracing aging as an empowering journey, challenging society’s negative narratives and shaping one’s perspective on health and self.
  • Embracing aging with energy and joy is about living fully, accepting oneself at every stage, and making loving choices that define personal aging experiences.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

 Have you ever found yourself clinging to the idea of youth equating fun with unhealthy habits and fearing that being responsible means being boring? If so, you’re totally not alone. And this episode is especially for you.

Today we, are going to uncover some unexpected truths about growing up, aging, and how you might be sabotaging your health and happiness without even realizing it. Trust me, this isn’t another lecture on eating your veggies and going to bed early. This is about rediscovering joy, energy, and the vibrant life that is waiting for you.

If you’re curious about how you can defy aging by embracing it, break free from marketing traps, and truly enjoy living a healthy life, you will not want to miss this episode. It’s time to question everything you thought you knew about aging, fun, and responsibility.

So, grab your favorite cup of tea, settle in, and let’s explore this together. You might just discover the key to a life filled with more joy, energy, and yes, more fun.

Welcome to the Done With Dieting Podcast, where it’s all about designing the life, you want in midlife. I’m your host, Elizabeth Sherman, a master certified life and health coach, personal trainer, nutritionist, feminist coach, and specialist in women’s hormones.

Are you tired of scales, food logs, and strict diets? Struggling with hormonal symptoms and the challenges of aging, changing relationships, and entering the next phase of your life? You have come to the right place.

Here, we talk about food freedom, nurturing a better relationship with your body, and feeling great again. All without the weight of traditional dieting methods.

Through a mix of solo podcasts and conversations with industry experts, I’m here to guide you towards a healthier, happier you.

Join me as we explore ways to look and feel better and strive for optimal health regardless of where you are in your journey. But more importantly, to reclaim control, confidence, and joy in this beautiful stage of life.

This is the Done With Dieting podcast. Let’s dive in.

Hey everyone, welcome to episode number 147 of the Done with Dieting podcast. I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And today, we have a topic that’s not only fascinating, but just might strike a chord with many of you.

You know that feeling, the one where you just don’t want to grow up? Where adulting seems like it’s all about being responsible, and somewhere deep inside, there’s a longing for those carefree days of youth.

Well, guess what? You’re not alone. And there’s even a name for it. It’s called the ‘Peter Pan Syndrome.’

We often associate growing up with losing the fun and zest of life. Health, responsibility, routine, they might feel boring compared to the wild, reckless days of youth. But what if I told you that this mindset could be affecting our health and well-being more than you realize.

In today’s episode, we’re exploring this phenomenon and how our reluctance to embrace adulthood might be impacting the way that we look at our bodies, our health habits, and even our enjoyment of life.

So, let me take you back to a time when I was a young adult. I was about 22 years old. It’s a time in life when we often feel invincible, right? Youth is on our side. We have everything that we need. We can get into bars and we’re living on our own and the whole world seems like it’s just waiting for us to explore.

I went on a date with this guy, a gentleman who was older than I was. And now, this man was into health, like really into it. And well, at that time, I really was not. I mean, I was still smoking cigarettes, staying out way past bedtime. In fact, often until the sun came up with my girlfriends, eating everything that you’re supposed to avoid, and exercise. That was something that I wouldn’t even consider for another 11 years.

I remember, thinking that the healthy stuff, the responsible stuff was boring. That it wasn’t fun or edgy. It was old and Sad. Does that resonate with you? Have you ever caught yourself thinking that way? It was my ageism at play, a bias about what it means to be young.

I thought the guy was nice enough, but his health consciousness seemed too adult, too mature. To me, being young was synonymous with rebellion, with defying the conventional wisdom of taking care of oneself. Healthy was dull, and I wanted to be exciting.

This notion that to be youthful, we must indulge in unhealthy habits is more common than we think. And it’s not just about an individual perception. It’s often shaped by the society that we live in. Where youth is prized, and age is not so much.

But here’s the twist. This mindset, this equation of fun with unhealthy habits does not serve us. It’s a misconception that can lead us down a path where we end up feeling far from young and vibrant.

Looking back, I now see the irony. I thought that taking care of myself was for old folks and yet, the choices I was making were aging me more than I realized. It took me a while, but I eventually learned that being responsible with my health didn’t mean losing out on the zest for life. In fact, it meant the opposite. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, now that I’ve revealed a little bit about my younger years, let’s talk about something that might be affecting all of us without even realizing it. I’m talking about the way that foods are marketed to us.

Have you ever noticed how certain foods are branded as fun or party foods, while other foods are labeled somewhat responsible, or healthy, or boring. Think about it. When you see commercials for snacks, sodas, or fast food, there’s often this vibrant, energetic vibe. Everything’s a party, everyone’s laughing and having the time of their lives. The message seems to be that if you want to have fun, these are the foods to enjoy.

Now, on the flip side, when we think about healthy foods, you know, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, the imagery is often quite different. It’s more subdued, more serious. These are the foods for responsible adults. And I’m using air quotes there. Not for those who want to let their hair down and have a good time.

What’s happening here is that we’re being subtly conditioned to associate unhealthy processed foods with youthfulness and joy. And healthy foods with being dull and old. It’s a marketing trap and it can impact our choices and our perceptions.

For example, when we think about parties or gatherings, we instantly think about chips, sodas, alcohol, or sugary treats. Water and salads, that might be considered less exciting or even less youthful.

But here’s the reality check. Choosing foods that nourish our bodies doesn’t mean we’re losing our edge or our ability to have fun. It means we’re taking charge of our health and we’re choosing to fuel ourselves with what makes us feel good. And trust me, feeling good and having energy, that is what’s fun. That is what’s youthful.

It’s time to break free from these stereotypes and redefine what it means to enjoy food, have fun, and take care of ourselves. Health is not about being old or dull. It’s about embracing life with vitality and joy.

So, I want to share a story with you from one of my clients. A story that might just resonate with some of you. This wonderful woman had formed a bond with her boyfriend through their shared love of indulging in food. And I totally, relate to this.

They would quote unquote pig out and that was a big part of their connection. But then, when we started working together, fear crept in. What if this shift towards healthier eating affected their relationship? What if she lost that special bond that they had through food?

This fear was holding her back from taking care of her body the way that she wanted to. It’s fascinating how food can play such an important role in our relationships and in our identity. Whether it’s bonding over favorite meals or associating certain foods with memories and emotions. What we eat often goes beyond mere sustenance. It becomes a symbol, a way to connect, a way to let loose.

And speaking of letting loose, how often do we equate that with over drinking and over eating? Think about the times when we say that we want to relax, be carefree, and we turn to food and drinks that might not be the best for us. We tell ourselves that it’s okay to go overboard because we’re just having fun.

But here’s the thing. Having fun doesn’t have to mean neglecting your health. Letting loose doesn’t have to mean throwing caution to the wind and treating your body in a way that doesn’t serve you.

My client eventually found a way to maintain her connection with her boyfriend without compromising her health goals. She learned that their bond was deeper than just food. And she could enjoy life, love, and connection without giving in to habits that weren’t in line with her well-being.

It’s about finding that balance and realizing that enjoying ourselves, bonding with loved ones, and being responsible with our health are not mutually exclusive. We can have fun and feel vibrant and still make choices that honor our bodies.

And the best part about that is making those choices doesn’t mean that we’re boring or old. It means that we’re actually really smart, wise, empowered, and fully engaged with life. And don’t you think that that’s something to celebrate?

Next, let’s talk about something that might be a little bit uncomfortable but really needs to be said and is incredibly important. I want to discuss the fear of as we get older, this idea that we’re going to become boring. And then, the irony in the choices that we sometimes make to defy aging.

So, we cling to these habits that we think are going to keep us young and lively. Late nights, over drinking, binging on our favorite snacks. It’s fun, right? It’s edgy. It’s youthful, so we tell ourselves. But here’s the kicker.

These habits that we think are defying age, they’re actually accelerating the aging process. Overindulging might feel good in the moment, but it takes its toll on our bodies, our energy, and our appearance. The irony is almost painful. All of that is adding stress.

Now, I want you to think about where you’ll be in a year from now. If you’re doing these things today, they are not magically going to get fixed on their own. Your life will not be any different next year if you don’t take active steps to change your relationship with food, with alcohol, with your body, and with exercise.

It’s not enough to merely recognize these habits. We need to question them. We have to ask ourselves, why do I equate fun with things that don’t make me feel good in the long run? Why do I associate being responsible with being old or dull?

And let’s go a little bit deeper with that. Why are we so afraid of being 60 or 70, and still holding on to these habits? Do we want to reach those golden years and still find ourselves binging on Oreos or overindulging in alcohol?

At some point, we need to grow up. And not in a dull or joyless way, but in a way that reflects wisdom, maturity, and self-care. I know that this is tough love, but it’s love all the same. It’s a call to embrace the beautiful process of aging with grace and wisdom.

It’s an invitation to redefine fun, excitement, and vibrancy in a way that honors our bodies and our souls. Your life can be different. It can be filled with energy, joy, and true fulfillment. But that change starts with you. It starts with you questioning your beliefs about food, aging, fun, and health. It starts with making choices that reflect the vibrant, wise, and incredible woman that you are.

Growing older is a journey filled with opportunities to become more aware, more compassionate, more in tune with ourselves. It’s a chance to live life to the fullest every single day, no matter how many candles are on that cake.

So, we need to embrace the truth together with open hearts and open minds. We can redefine what it means to age, what it means to have fun, and to truly take care of ourselves. Because you deserve nothing less.

Now, that I’ve done my tough love and I’ve uncovered some truths about aging, it’s time to talk about empowerment. It’s time to focus on how do you want to think about health, aging, and most importantly, yourself. You see, society feeds us these narratives about aging that are often negative and limiting.

We are told that getting older means losing vitality, fun, or attractiveness. And sometimes, we might even buy into these messages without even realizing it. But here’s the exciting part. You have the power to challenge those stories. You have the power to decide how you want to think about your health, aging, and yourself. You do not have to accept the story that’s been handed to you.

Imagine the freedom and joy in embracing a perspective that celebrates aging as a journey of wisdom, grace, and self-discovery. Think about the energy and confidence that can come from taking care of your body, not out of fear or obligation but out of love and respect.

Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Change takes time, effort, and a lot of self-reflection. But you don’t have to do it alone. I am right here with you, cheering you on, believing your incredible potential.

So, let’s start with some practical steps. The first thing that I want to bring your attention to is questioning marketing.

Next time you see an ad that promotes unhealthy food as fun or makes you feel inadequate for aging. I’d like you to question it. Ask yourself, does it align with your values and beliefs?

Step two. Redefine fun and responsibility. Who says that eating healthily or exercising is boring? Find ways to make these choices joyful and exciting. Dance while you cook, laugh during your workout. It’s all about your mindset.

Number 3. Talk to yourself like you are your best friend forever. Be gentle, encouraging, and honest with yourself. Remind yourself that you’re strong, capable, and deserving of health and happiness.

And finally, step 4. Take small steps. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Set realistic goals, celebrate your progress, and keep moving forward. You can totally do this.

The real beauty in aging is not about looking a certain way or fitting into society’s mold. It’s about becoming more of who you truly are. It’s about growing in self-awareness, compassion, and wisdom. It’s about living a life that feels authentically yours.

So, here’s my challenge to you. Take control of this story on aging, and food, and your body. Decide how you want to think about your health, aging, and yourself. Let go of fear and embrace your power. And know, that I’m here rooting for you every single step of the way. You’ve got this. And I cannot wait to see the amazing person that you’ll continue to become.

All right, so now it’s time to put everything that we’ve discussed into action. Now, that we’ve explored how our beliefs and behaviors impact how we age, let’s talk about the practical steps to have more energy, and reverse the aging process, and embrace life’s journey with grace and vitality.

So, one. Embrace a healthy diet. You do not have to give up everything that you love. But make an effort to include nourishing, fresh foods. every healthy choice is a celebration of your body. And healthy food can be fun and tasty too.

Two. Get Moving. Exercise doesn’t have to mean hours at the gym. Find activity that brings you joy, whether it’s dancing, walking, or yoga. Moving your body is an investment in yourself and it’s never too late to start.

Number three. Mind your sleep. Quality rest is crucial for our overall wellbeing. Allow yourself the time to unwind and to sleep well. Your body and mind will thank you.

Number four. Reflect on your habits. So, take a good look at the habits that might not be serving you. Whether it’s overindulging in food or alcohol, now is the time to make changes. And it doesn’t have to be drastic. It’s a process. So, be patient and be kind with yourself.

Number five. Stay informed and of course, keep learning. In fact, if you haven’t listened to episode 140 of the Done With Dieting podcast, I highly recommend it. I dive deep into how our health habits impact how we age and how we do so with grace and purpose.

Number six is build a support system. Surround yourself with people who uplift you and align with your health goals. Sometimes a little encouragement goes a long way. And if you’re looking for a community, I have the Feel Good Sisterhood, my group coaching program which goes over all of this.

Number seven. Celebrate your progress. Changing habits is a journey, not a destination. Celebrate your milestones and remember that every step forward counts. You see, reversing the aging process isn’t about trying to turn back time. That’s impossible.

It’s about living fully, embracing the present, and nurturing ourselves in ways that allow us to shine from the inside out. It’s about loving and accepting ourselves at every stage of life.

So, take those tips to heart, experiment with them, and make them your own. You are in control of how you age, and your future self will thank you for the loving choices that you make today.

As we wrap up this episode, it’s been a powerful conversation today about growing up, embracing age, and truly living life to its fullest. We’ve uncovered some unexpected truths about the way that we often view youth, fun, and responsibility. But more importantly, we’ve found empowering ways to shift our perspective and truly live with energy, confidence, and joy.

I want you to know that you have the power to define what aging means to you. It’s not about giving up fun or being trapped in old limiting beliefs. It’s about embracing the wisdom in the vibrant life that comes with growth and self-care.

I hope today’s episode has inspired you to question the narratives and stories that you’ve been sold by our culture. And to create your own story, one that serves you. One that’s filled with health, happiness, and joy.

If anything from today’s episode resonated with you, or sparked an idea, I would love to hear from you. Share your thoughts with me, and let’s continue this conversation. Your feedback means the world to me.

And before I sign off, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for tuning in. Your support and willingness to go on this journey of self-discovery with me is what makes this podcast a truly special place.

So, here’s to you and to a life filled with joy, health, and endless possibilities. Keep questioning, keep growing, and always remember that you are strong, you are beautiful, and you have everything that you need to create the life that you desire.

That’s all I have for you today. Have an amazing day, everyone. And I will talk to you next time. Bye-bye.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you found some gems in this episode that spoke to your heart. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we are all on this journey together?

Now, if you want to dive deeper and get even more valuable tips and techniques to help with your health, I’ve got something special for you.

Subscribe to my weekly emails at I’m sharing insights there that I don’t share anywhere else. And I’d hate for you to miss out. Oh, and if you want to stay connected between episodes, come hang out with me on Instagram @donewithdietingpodcast or on Facebook at Total Health by Eliz.

I absolutely love connecting with my listeners. That’s you. And your thoughts and feedback help me create more episodes that resonate with what you need.

Thank you again for being here. Your presence truly lights up my community and I cannot wait to connect with you in all of these ways. Until next time, keep shining and keep being you. You are doing so amazing and I’m right here cheering you on.

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peter pan syndrome
peter pan syndrome