I wish with all my heart, that the deeply sensitive issues our teens face could truly be solved in 7 simple steps, don’t you? But if we’re honest, tender issues such as teen obesity and poor body image sometimes take a lot longer to overcome. However, this doesn’t mean we throw our hands up in defeat.
To the contrary, we do whatever we can to consistently help, guide, and support our teenagers through whatever they are going through. Be encouraged. If your teen is struggling with obesity, your family is not alone. The following steps are suggested via experts and parents that have worked hard to help teens overcome their struggle with obesity.
Step 1: Start with a Question-led Discussion
Instead of making brash statements such as, “We need to do something about your weight,” or “You really need to go on a diet,” set aside some time to have a question-led discussion with your teen.
For example, start the conversation by asking, “What does being healthy really mean to you?” Forego asking yes or no questions. Instead, with respect and gentleness, get them to open up about the reality of their situation.
One of the biggest mistakes that we humans make (especially parents) is to assume and assert our opinions. The root of true mental health comes with diving into the truths that live within… those that we’re all afraid to share, but when we finally let them out… healing can occur.
Step 2: Come Up with a New Plan Together
Teens who struggle with obesity need someone to coach them in a different direction. According to WebMD, “your teen might feel upset or angry about his weight, he may also not want you to meddle. As much as he may try to tackle his problems on his own, though, it’s important for you to be involved.”
Sit down together and make a meal plan the whole family can enjoy. Plan regular physical activities such as walking, swimming, exercise classes, swimming, or even bowling
Step 3: Find Positive Reinforcements that Don’t Involve Food
This may require a complete 180 in your family, but it can really help turn the tide of obesity. Instead of celebrating events and achievements with food, try something different. Perhaps, you could go on a family hike, go shoe shopping, or see the latest concert. Think of positive reinforcements to encourage your teen’s accomplishments that have absolutely nothing to do with food.
Step 4: Encourage Journaling
Take an ordinary food journal and turn it into a place where feelings and emotions regarding food can be recorded. Look for encouraging quotes, graphics, and articles to share with your teen that will boost their mood and lift their spirits. Perhaps, you can even encourage them to make video recordings of their journey in overcoming obesity. This may provide a record of their successes that they can recount during hard times.
Here are some free printable food journaling pages with motivational quotes and more.
Step 5: Turn to the Professionals
There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional help if needed. Don’t let other’s opinions cause you to feel guilty for getting medical or psychological help for your teen’s obesity. In fact, the American Academy of Adolescent and Child Psychology says,“Obese children need a thorough medical evaluation by a pediatrician or family physician to consider the possibility of a physical cause.”
It’s a good idea to rule out any underlying medical issues so that you can work together with a trusted professional to give your child every tool available. Teen obesity, if tackled as soon as possible, can be overcome. There
Step 6: Reevaluate Your Routine
If three hours of television per night is part of your family routine, you may want to reevaluate. Perhaps, too much media time is a big cause of your teen’s weight issues. Set a timer and create a home atmosphere of activity instead of mindless inactivity.
Also, if your family is in the habit of grabbing fast food for dinner, try to preplan your weekly meals. Stock the fridge with healthy snacks and stop buying the things that lead to overconsumption. These are healthy changes that will benefit the entire family.
You may even want to consider a food service that encourages families to cook together. Here are 11 healthy meal delivery services you may want to consider.
Step 7: Join Them on the Journey
No matter what, both parents need to encourage their kids with the same message. According to research done by the University of Minnesota,“overweight kids who had both parents talking to them and promoting healthy eating behaviors — rather than discussing their weight and size — were more likely to listen to their advice.”
Never make your teen feel like he or she is alone. Make them feel like you are ‘in it together’ and provide the tools and resources to help them overcome teen obesity once and for all.