Part 2 – How Can I Talk With My Teen About Weight Issues?

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FOCUS ON HEALTH

“Make sure you set a good example for healthy, balanced eating and body image,” says Crawford. “This means not “dieting,” fitting in family meals whenever possible, no excessive exercising and no criticism of your own or other people’s bodies.” If you don’t want your kids to shut down when the topic of weight comes up, let go of a focus on the weight, or the number on the scale, and focus on general health, he says.

Instead of saying, “I’m concerned because you have lost so much weight over the past month,” say “I’m really worried about you because it seems like you don’t have as much energy lately. Are you feeling OK?” Likewise, instead of saying “You seem to be gaining weight. You’d better start watching what you’re eating,” it might be better to say “I know you’ve been grabbing a lot of meals on the run lately. Let’s try to make some more time to have family meals together,” and then follow through by planning and preparing meals that incorporate a variety of foods.

“Keep in mind that everything in moderation – as opposed to completely banning fast food or desserts – is the key to balanced eating,” says Crawford.

EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF BREAKFAST

“It is vital for teens to have breakfast,” says registered dietitician Joan O’Keefe, RD, a frequent speaker on nutrition at schools and the creater of the “Nutrition 101” video series. “Their biological clocks say “sleep in”, but the reality is that they have to get up and they have to have breakfast and it must include protein.”

Protein in the morning will keep kids satisfied and will help eliminate junk-food cravings, says O’Keefe. “Protein sources can be fast,” she adds. “Leftover protein from dinner (chicken breast, etc.), yogurt with berries, peanut butter and an apple or whey protein (mix it and go out the door with it) are all quick-and-easy options. 

ASK OTHER IMPORTANT ADULTS IN YOUR CHILD’S LIFE TO SEND THE RIGHT MESSAGE

“As with any other important issue, make sure that both parents and important relatives are all on the same page,” suggests Hayes. “Sending mixed messages about weight can also have unhealthy consequences.”

If you’re concerned about other family members having potentially negative discussions with your teen about weight, you may want to share this article with them and talk a bit about the approach you want to use. 

UNDERSTAND PUBERTY-RELATED WEIGHT CHANGES

Teens naturally go through a normal and necessary weight gain at the start of puberty, which allows their body to proceed with maturation, says Crawford. At time goes on, with normal eating behavior, their weight will level off at the body’s unique set point. Parents who draw negative attention to this period of weight gain could trigger body-image concerns and dieting behavior.

Has your daughter started her period yet? If not, would you have expected her to have started earlier? There may be a possibility that low body weight has delayed the onset of menstruation. If she did start menstruating, is she still getting her period, or has it stopped or become irregular? If you have concerns about this, talk with your daughter’s doctor.

MAKE THE MOST OF TEENS’ INTEREST IN THE WEB

“Introduce your teen to some helpful websites that focus on teen health, such aswww.nflrush.com/play60 and www.kidshealth.org (which also has a teen section),” suggests Dallas, Texas registered dietitician Paragi Mehta, RD.

“Together, visit sites such as www. americanheart.org and www.diabetes.org,” suggests Mehta. “This is not to scare your teen, but to create an awareness that if we get healthy now, we can reduce our risk of having lifelong disease or health conditions. Explain to your child that diabetes and heart disease are serious, and talk about how making healthy lifestyle choices now can help protect her health in the future.”

While these sites offer positive examples for teens, the same can’t be said of all

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3 OF THIS AWESOME ARTICLE…..

2 comments for “Part 2 – How Can I Talk With My Teen About Weight Issues?

  1. November 9, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks for recognizing both sides of teen weight issues. It seems like as we recognize teen obesity as a problem we’ve forgotten that there are still kids out there suffering from anorexic and bulimic type eating disorders.

    • November 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      People need to be aware of both sides of the coin, so to speak. And HOW to address it with their kids. Eating disorders exist for teens (and even sadder, pre-teens) as much as they do for adults.

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