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How to Help an Overweight Teen

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A teen’s weight can have a profound influence on their physical and mental health. If a teenager has a weight-related health issue, it’s not easy for parents to know what they can do to help. Teens may feel frustrated, depressed, or angry about their weight, but that doesn’t mean they will always appreciate you butting in on their problems.

However, despite their resistance to help from their parents or guardians, it’s critical you get involved at some level and assist them with making healthy food choices. Here’s how you can help an overweight teen.

Change Starts in the Home

One of the most effective measures you can do to help an overweight teen is to make changes at home. Singling them out at meals will only fuel their frustrations. When they see that everyone is making adjustments, they won’t feel so isolated.

Make Sensible Food Choices for the Family

Fill your food storage with healthy snacks rather than processed rubbish. Carrots and apples are suitable substitutes for chips and biscuits. If you have grown used to convenience at the expense of healthy, it may be quite the adjustment. Start with one meal at a time and work up from there. Healthy habits generally aren’t made overnight but take a consistent effort.

Get Rid of the Soft Drink

Soft drinks are sugary-laden beverages that can add a significant amount of calories to a teen’s diet without fully knowing how much they are consuming. Start by replacing soft drinks at dinner time with water and work up from there.

Teens who have developed a habit of consuming energy drinks will also be consuming more calories than they need. Teach them healthier food choices that will negate the need for an artificial energy boost. Don’t replace soft drinks with diet versions, as these most often do not influence a person’s weight. Water has zero calories and is still the best drink for curing thirst.

Eat more home-cooked Meals

Convenience and take-out food is rarely the healthy choice.  If time is a factor, learn recipes that are quick and easy to prepare at home, or set aside a few hours on a Sunday to make all your meals in one hit. The average take-out meal has around 30% more calories than a similar meal prepared at home. Studies have also revealed that families who eat together are also less likely to have an overweight teen.

Resist the Urge to Nag

You want your child to be healthy and happy, but nagging and criticizing every bite they take will not achieve anything other than to foster resentment. You will also put up obstacles to them learning to make better choices on their own. Remember, they are making a huge adjustment that is best done in small increments rather than making one significant change and expecting it to stick.

Adopt a Positive Body Image Attitude

Part of your teen’s frustrations will stem from society’s portrayal of the ideal body, which most often strays a long way from reality. The slim figures they see on social and mainstream media are not the norm. Most glamour shots are heavily Photoshopped anyway, so teens must understand they are perfectly normal.  Point out your teen’s strengths, and be sure to reinforce a positive body image regularly. Let them know that you love them just the way they are, and so do all their friends.

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