Weighty Issues

Do you have an overweight or obese teen? You’re not alone. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services recently published report, 14 percent of adolescents in the United States are overweight. This figure has tripled over the past two decades.

So what’s the best way to help your teen? Parents know that discussing anything remotely related to the topic of your daughter’s weight can be downright tricky. Teens, especially girls, can be very sensitive to any suggestion that there is something wrong with their body. How you approach the issue wiht her can make all the difference. If you notice that your daughter is putting on the pounds, it’s important to walk the line between saying enough, and not saying too much. Remember, in order for her to lose weight she needs your support and encouragement. So, follow these tips to help her get healthy!

How to Help Your Daughter Get Healthy:

  • Talk with her about what’s healthy. Many teens are ill informed about what is actually good for their bodies. Talk with her about what is healthy and what is not.
  • Make a plan that she will “buy into”. Dictating what she can and cannot eat is not a good strategy. You need to join with her and get her ‘on board’ with an agreed upon plan for her to lose weight. For example, she might agree to eat smaller portions or fish instead of steak, etc. If she doesn’t buy into it, then it won’t work.
  • Toss out the junk food. It’s gotta go! Clear out your cabinets and parcel down your pantry so she won’t be tempted to snack on foods that unhealthy.
  • Eat healthy as a family. In a busy world, it’s often hard to sit down together and eat as a family, but it can be an important step toward teaching your daughter how to eat healthy. If you can’t eat together every night, then pick a couple of nights a week where everyone sits together and eats healthy. It also promotes good family bonding.
  • Get active. Parents should find fun physical activities to do together. Go boating, skiing, ice skating or even for a walk. You’ll teach her great ways to get exercise while also getting healthy yourself!
  • Put the brakes on unsafe dieting. Young girls are very impressionable and your daughter is no exception. She may try to go on a “crash” diet or some other unhealthy and unsafe method of loosing the weight. If you see this happening confront her immediately. Starving herself or going on the latest ‘supermodel’ diet of lettuce and diet coke can be harmful and dangerous to her health.
  • Eat only when she is hungry. Often, overweight or obese teens feel the overwhelming need to eat or snack all the time. Stress to your daughter that she should only eat when she is hungry.
  • Allow Treats. Just because she’s dieting, doesn’t mean she has to forgo all of life’s little treats (after all, would you REALLY want to give up all of your chocolate?). She deserves little rewards here and there to keep her spirits up.

When to see a Doctor or Nutritionist:

If you try these tips and your daughter still seems to be having difficulty losing weight or she refuses to listen to your advice, it’s probably time to see a dietician or nutritionist. You can also take her to your family physician. There may be other things going on besides her blossoming weight and it’s important to get her checked-out.