The Teenage Weight Issue: Overweight to Underweight to Self Image

The teenage weight issue is very scary.  While we as a society are so concerned about childhood obesity, I have recently encountered the disturbing issue of teens who are watching their weight too closely.  I was a volunteer selling popcorn at a high school.  I lost count of the number of girls that walked up to the table and debated whether or not they should buy a bag of popcorn.  It wasn't about the cost because they all walked up with the money in their hands.  The majority of them talked about what they ate for breakfast or debated skipping or having a lite dinner if they ate the popcorn.  There was not a size 4 or larger girl that debated buying popcorn.  All of these girls were very thin.  They talked about where the popcorn would end up on their bodies.

Is this how we want teenage girls to live?  Do we want them to fear that they will become overweight by eating a bag of popcorn?  Do we want them to be obsessive about food?  I would like for all children to learn to eat a balanced diet and not be tormented by their food choices.  There is nothing wrong with having sweet or salty snacks, but have them in moderation.  Kids love junk food.  If you had a fun childhood, you ate junk food when you were a kid.  It tasted great and you enjoyed every bit of it.  With the way food is processed today, more and more of the junk food is not very healthy and therefore, kids should consume a lot less of it.

Part of this issue is parenting.  How do you communicate with your children about what they eat?  Do you berate them when you see them eating junk food?  Do you suggest that they cut back on the amount of junk food that they eat?  Do you teach them about making healthy choices when they are away from home?  Parents should practice what they preach.  If you want your children to eat healthy, that process starts at home.  Providing healthy meals and snacks at home is the first step to teaching your kids about making healthy choices.  Many parents have life long weight issues that were never properly addressed when they were younger.  Those issues will be dumped on your children.  If you always struggled and fretted about your weight, you will teach your children to be overly concerned about their weight.

Teenagers are dealing with enough mentally, physically and emotionally already and their weight should not be another issue that they are dealing with unnecessarily.  Don't stress your teen out about their weight if they are not over weight.  If they gain a large amount of weight in a very short time and there is no medical reason for the weight gain, try adding a family walk or bike ride to your normal family routine.  Look at your meal choices and change them for the whole family and not just the child that has gained the weight.

Be a positive role model and tell your children just how beautiful they are.  My daughter complained about being too skinny (Interpretation: I want boobs and a butt).  I told her that she was beautiful and was the perfect size and that plenty of girls would kill to be her size.  It took her new high school peers to convince her that her body was just great!

Society has put too much pressure on teens to be super thin.  Teens should be encouraged to enjoy life and to eat a healthy and balanced diet and to exercise.  They shouldn't be made to feel as though they are inferior if they are not a size 0.  Teenagers should not fear eating a bag of popcorn.  Deciding what food to eat should not be an agonizing experience.

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Filed under: Parenting

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