More and more teens believe they are overweight, when they’re, in fact, at a healthy weight. As well as setting unrealistic weight loss goals for themselves they are opening themselves up to a range of illness.
The pressure to look perfect contributes to conditions like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. More recently, obesity has gained attention because of its epidemic status. But restrictive eating disorders can be just as dangerous to teens.
Research puts the estimates at million teens – boys and girls – having some form of an eating disorder in the USA.
It’s essential to know the different healthy weight parameters for adults and teens. Parents can help to talk about unrealistic standards versus being healthy. Whether you’re dealing with obesity or restrictive eating in teens, the message should be similar. We should be teaching them about a healthy lifestyle and balance.
Eating a varied diet, ensures you have the energy you need and getting regular physical exercise means keeping your body healthy.
Being a teenager is fraught with uncomfortable situations. Peer pressure and unrealistic expectations can mean complex issues around weight. Thanks in large part to the media.
We’re seeing more and more people in the obese or morbidly obese category. And this means more and more young people are affected too.
But, the way we talk about obesity could also be harming teenagers. The media focus on weight and bodies has increased the risk for eating disorders. Anorexia and bulimia.
And rather than focusing on healthy behaviors, society often promotes thin as meaning healthy.
If you have suffered from unhealthy weight gain and sought medical attention to deal with this issue, then you may be feeling great but wondering what to do about that excess skin on your body. There are medical professionals that you can consult about this.
In the meantime, here are our lessons around weight loss that every teen should consider.
Limit screen time; two hours a day should be your aim. And that means all the screens. So put down your mobile, turn off the TV and computer and go outside instead.
It’s not uncommon for teens to lose interest in physical activity. School, homework, their social lives and even jobs mean they have a lot to keep them occupied.
But regular physical activity helps with energy, focus and mental health.
It can also help maintain a healthy weight and prevent chronic illness later in life.
Guidelines for teens suggest at least 1 hour of daily physical activity.
- Include aerobic exercise like running and swimming or dance.
- Any moderate to intense activity counts toward the 60-minute goal.
- Muscle and bone-strengthening exercise should form a significant part of weekly activity.
Don’t let activity becomes a chore. Choose something you enjoy. That could mean taking the dog for a walk every day after school or being part of a sports team.
Teens can get health benefits from many of the activities they enjoy, whether it’s skateboarding or yoga. And it’s easy to work physical activity into everyday routines; walking to school or doing chores, for instance.
Many teens find they have reduced stress and increased energy from regular exercise. And it soon becomes something they do with little encouragement.
- Sports and structured exercise programs for healthy, social and enjoyable fitness habits.
- Supervised weight training helps prevent injury. It’s good for your long term health and helps create the physique you want.
Research shows that families that eat together are healthier. And frequent family meals also means better food choices among teens.
Many studies conclude that family mealtimes result in teens consuming more fruits and vegetables. And less junk and sugary drinks. As well as decreasing risky behaviors and improved mental health.
Start small, with one meal a week, for instance. Don’t put too much pressure on each other. Keep the meals healthy but straightforward. Outcomes you can expect when you join the family for meals:
- Talking about problems or sharing a problem
- Being heard within your family.
- Helping with the prep teaches the importance of cooking skills.
Always have something before you leave the house in the morning. We’re not all breakfast people but eat something, even if it’s a piece of fruit.
Teen years are a rapid part of growth. And a growing body needs extra nutrients. Always eat healthy at the start of the day and limit junk food, soft drinks, and eating out.
Healthy eating habits and physical activity will help lower the risk of obesity.
The importance of a healthy breakfast:
- To support bone growth and hormonal changes.
- Those nutrients are also crucial for organ and tissue development.
- Particularly crucial for brain development
Tell the family
Family is usually our most significant support system. You probably don’t do the shopping so let your parents know so they can shop appropriately for you. It’s hard to make changes if you don’t have support.
Here are some common-sense tips that your family will probably tell you that you should listen to:
- Don’t obsess about calories.
- Be as fit and healthy as possible for me rather than focusing on calorie intake.
- Delete sugary drinks. Water and milk or even herbal teas are much better for you than energy drinks and fizz.
You don’t need to stop snacking, just change your perception of what that means. And remember that you need regular nutritional foods.
Even if you eat 3 healthy meals per day, you will probably find you still get hunger pangs. So, snacking is definitely a thing you’ll want to do. Nutritious food between meals keeps energy levels high and your mind alert.
Frequent hunger is natural during adolescence, as the body grows.
- Pay attention to what you eat. An order of chips will only give you a temporary boost. But long term snacks high in fat and calories will only slow you down.
- Avoid foods and drinks with lots of added sugars. Instead opt for high fibre foods like fruit and vegetables. And try protein-rich snacks like yogurt or cheese.
The bottom line
Finding balance in what you eat and how much you move means creating a healthy lifestyle.
It’s important to note that diets are not healthy in general. Restrictive eating is not part of a healthy lifestyle. For healthy habits and stick to them!
Eat a varied diet, ensure you have the energy you need and get regular physical exercise.
And remember that people come in all shapes and sizes. Instead of focusing on weight, think about forming sustainable healthy habits for long term health.