Do you want to hear a subject that I don’t recommend for any patient during puberty, or for parents who have children in this age group? Diets. Teen obesity is a real problem and we shouldn’t see it as a monster to be fought through food restrictions, because it’s not only a weight problem, you have to understand why they’ve gained weight.
What I propose is: after an evaluation by a health professional, who will determine if they have a hormonal or metabolic cause for gaining weight, we need to help young people develop better body acceptance, end bullying (this monster we should fight against!) and construct healthy relationships with food, which shouldn’t be surrounded by penalties. Helping your child have a tranquil relationship with food and body is the best gift you can give them for a lifetime!
Just like the first year of a child’s life – when weight triples in a period of only 12 months – adolescence is a phase of intense transformation.
There are hormones, emotions, disordered body growth… And, a lot of hunger. And it’s also a moment of individualization, in which some teenagers decide to break family patterns, question and impose their own opinions.
All of this is acceptable! What isn’t cool, at this stage of life, is to come into conflict with biology itself trying to find a body pattern that’s not always possible to achieve. Unfortunately, this war against the body can, at this time of transformation, provoke an imbalance, which can result in a greater weight gain or an eating disorder.
Adolescence is the right time to make amends with food!
Studies show that teen obesity has a high chance of migrating into adulthood.
But I prefer to emphasize that this is one of the most favorable times to come out of obesity. This is because, in addition to being a phase of physical growth, adolescence is also a period in which we solidify some of our values.
So I suggest you leave your crazy diets aside and listen to the body’s signals. Hunger sensations can be huge, but that is solved by eating better! Perfect the quality of what is eaten and also HOW it is eaten. If the person eats at will, but consciously, slowly, chewing well, feeling the taste of things, they will probably feel satiated and won’t feel like repeating very often.
Mindful eating or eating in a conscious way: This is an excellent tool for the prevention of teen obesity. It’s more effective than any diet!
The secret is not restriction / diet, but to seek to eat better. Learn about the Sophie Effect!
I see many fathers and mothers obsessed with the body image of their teenager. I can say that this kind of concern doesn’t do anything worthwhile, other than create general family discontent.
Food bans may even be the gateway to teen obesity and, worse than that, to an eating disorder. Embarrassed, the adolescent starts to eat things they want in secret, so as not to disappoint their parents.
My tip for reversing this scenario is precisely to stop focusing on the teenager’s weight and to start valuing their other characteristics! Is he/she good at math? Can he/she fix things like nobody else? Does he/she have culinary skills, a talent for singing or skills in martial arts?
Life is more important than a number shown on the scales. From the moment the teenager and their parents take away the focus on this imposed body standard, and begin to strengthen their self-esteem through valuing other merits, this unhealthy relationship with food becomes calmer.
Routine prevents teen obesity
One must accept that puberty is a time of weight gain and growth. This is natural! Now, to prevent the excessive gain of pounds, it’s important that everyone at home is engaged in this cause.
One tip I always give is: Establish routine. The power of habit is something incredible. Teenagers who have the time to make their main meals (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner) have a lower chance of becoming obese.
They won’t feel as hungry and nibble throughout the day if they eat fruit, bread, rice, beans, meat, vegetables, leaves, meaning, real food. It’s up to parents to be supportive during this time and provide a healthy environment at home.
Mom and Dad don’t like to cook? How about testing some quick recipes with a few ingredients? You don’t have to be a chef to make simple and tasty things. And your teenager may also discover that they have culinary skills, see how this is a good opportunity to engage everyone in this cause! I’ve put many of my quick, easy and delicious recipes in my book “The Weight of Diets”.
Outside of the family, it’s also worth respecting the teenager’s social life. They can choose to eat party foods, and even opt for fast food eventually! Deprivation of these things makes them sad or guilty when they go out with their friends and this disrupts the process of constructing a good relationship with food.
Less restriction, more acceptance. This is the best way to prevent teen obesity.
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How about learning my Sophie Effect method, which teaches you to transform your relationship with food and to listen to your body’s signals again? It includes six weeks of videos and materials that will explain eating habits, and how you can regain the pleasure of eating. Check it out!