Being overweight is a drag, no matter what age you are. But being an overweight teen is especially daunting. Not only do teenagers have to deal with all of the normal body image issues of puberty and awkward limbs, but it is not uncommon for other teenagers, with less than developed social skills, to be cruel. If you are a parent of an overweight teen, reading this, keep in mind that you don’t need to tell your child that being overweight is a problem. Between media and other kids, they have probably already gotten the message. The thing is, it is not entirely uncommon to be a little overweight as a teenager. The teenage years are prime growth spurt time, and in many cases, an adolescent body will pack on a few extra pounds just before shooting up and thinning out.
These growth spurts are exactly why it is so dramatically important that teens don’t “diet” in the traditional sense that adults do. As a teen, you need every ounce of your daily recommended nutrition to not only grow, but also to fuel brain development (useful for those SAT’s) and keep skin and hair looking clear and healthy.
Similarly, as a teen your metabolism is still setting its pace. When you dramatically cut your caloric intake, you can slow things down, making it harder for you to lose weight later on in life.
Get Out There
Instead of dieting, get active. You don’t even have to be an athlete. Find something fun to do, like nature photography (which requires that you get out and hike around in nature) or skateboarding. Volunteering for a habitat for humanity or food bank project that requires lifting and physical teamwork. Or mentor a kid who you can play with. Either would help you get active, feel awesome about yourself and look great on your college application.
Sometimes, just distracting yourself, during the times, like on evenings or weekends, that you are prone to overeat, can do the trick. If volunteering isn’t your thing, get a job (not at a restaurant). That way, your wallet will get fatter as your waistline gets slimmer.
How Parents Can Help
It can be excruciating to watch your teen struggle with his or her weight, but in your efforts to help, be extra encouraging and loving. Remember there is nothing wrong with your child, and your efforts to help him or her “fix” themselves can make them feel like they are broken.