The teenage years can be challenging, especially for a young girl who is overweight. She may experience feelings of self-consciousnesses and ridicule from her peers, and she may not know what she needs to do to lose the extra pounds. Helping your daughter lose weight will not only ensure a healthier future for her, it could also help prevent more serious short-term pitfalls, such as eating disorders.
Safe and Supportive Environment
While a nutritious diet and regular exercise are cornerstones of a healthy weight loss program for teenagers, the most important thing you can do as a parent is offer a safe and supportive environment for losing weight. Rather than inundating her with caloric requirements and hounding her about exercise, let her know you are there to help her in whatever way you can during her weight loss journey.
Leading by Example
Although many teenagers rebel against their parents, they also learn by the example their parents set for them. If you don’t eat healthfully and exercise regularly, it’s unlikely that your teenager will adopt these healthy habits. Let your teen see you eating nutritious foods and engaging in exercise and strength training. If you don’t currently have a healthful diet or a regular exercise regimen, make it a point to develop one. If your teen sees you taking steps in the right direction, she may be encouraged to do so herself. If you’re also overweight, you and your teen can join forces to battle the bulge together.
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Along with creating a supportive environment and leading by example, encourage your teen to be proactive in her weight loss endeavor. Let her know she can do anything she puts her mind to, even losing a significant amount of weight. Empowering your teen means taking steps to boost her self-confidence, so she can positively deal with any teasing she might face at school. Help your daughter feel good about herself by highlighting her strengths. Lastly, empower your teen with knowledge about nutrition and exercise so that she can make her own decisions about how to take care of herself.
Stress a Healthy Lifestyle, not Calorie Counting
Whether you’re 16 or 66, weight loss is a basic concept that involves balancing calories consumed and calories burned. But don’t focus too heavily on counting calories when advising your teen how to lose weight. Rather, provide information on the elements of a healthful diet that is based on whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy and eschews processed foods with added sugars and fats, fast food, candy and sugary beverages. Similarly, encourage your teen to get active by helping her find an activity she enjoys doing regularly. She shouldn’t focus on counting the minutes she exercises or the number of calories she burned.
Diet and Fitness Tips for Your Teen
Many parents may be confused about the requirements for a healthful teen diet and fitness program. Teens should get about an hour of exercise each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This should include aerobic activity such as running or playing sports. Muscle-strengthening activities such as pushups and situps should be a part of the daily hour of exercise, three days per week.
When it comes to meals and snacks, take your direction from the USDA’s MyPlate food guide. One-half of the plate should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, one-quarter should consist of lean protein and one-quarter should consist of grains, preferably whole. Include a serving of dairy in each of your teen’s meals. If your teen likes to snack, encourage nutritious snacks such as fresh fruit, cut up veggies and hummus or air-popped popcorn instead of calorie-laden vending machine fare.