Teen Obesity: Helping Your Teen

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Teen obesity and weight issues are not an easy challenge to deal with. Teenagers in general struggle with emotional turmoil, self image, and finding their independence, but when you add the pressure of an added health risk that also affects your teen’s image, it can become a serious problem, both physically and emotionally. You can help your teen address weight issues so that is not a lifelong problem.

joggingIt is ridiculous to expect your teens to change their habits or appearance over night. Keep in mind that you can and must be a part of the change, not by nagging or criticizing but by supporting and understanding. Join your teen on the journey to better health. While it may be convenient to swing through the drive thru rather than step foot into your kitchen, it is not the example you want to set. A healthy home cooked meal will not only cut down on the calories but it will provide you with the chance to show your teen that you are in this together.

It is important to reassure your teen that the changes you both are making to your lives do not concern appearance or image. The focus is on health, not losing weight. This is not boot camp either; you are not running a home version of The Biggest Loser. Teach the message of everything in moderation. Starving your teen is not a healthy alternative in any way, and neither is deprivation of favorite foods. It’s ok to go out for a piece of cheesecake or grab a milkshake together once in a while. Just don’t sit down together every night in front of the TV with a bag of chips.

There are many small changes that you can make that will have a big impact. Simply beginning the day with a healthy meal can pave the way for healthy decisions for the rest of the day. Starting the day with a balanced breakfast can keep your teen from craving junk throughout the day. Keep healthy snacks in the house at all times and limit the amount of junk food that you keep around. Fruits and vegetables are a perfect substitution for chips and cookies. Ask your teen what healthy foods they enjoy to make changing their diet less of a chore. Take your teen to the grocery store and let him or her pick a few favorite healthy snacks.

Being active is another important part of being healthy, but handing your teen a gym membership card is not going to get you very far. Start small and suggest taking walks as a family or join the gym together. Even small changes can have a big impact on the obese teen’s health, but it takes you to help make it happen.

It is important to talk to your family physician when starting a workout program as well. A doctor can give you and your teen helpful tips on what is a good plan of action to help fight obesity.