How do you talk to your teen about weight issues?


[deleted account]

Think I agree with Celeste about action instead of talk.

But I think we should visit the concepts of how we think about our kids and their food and lifestyle choices...

The food we eat, how much we eat, or if we eat at all is sometimes the ONLY control a child has over his or her life.

So take some time to carefully observe your child.

Does he or she have freedom to make choices in her life?

What to wear, what to do with free time, when to go to bed, when to get up, what to eat, and sometimes who to be friends with, even who they will live with in some circumstances. Sometimes the only thing they can absolutely control is what they eat. And that may be what brings them joy. Some feel joy by withholding food, some by feasting on food.

This will not make me popular, I am sure, but if my Mom told me that I needed to lose 25 pounds before it turned into 40 pounds, I would be very hurt, even devastated.

While it might be true, (it is, and I am working on it :D) it may make a child dig in even deeper. I am sure that is not how you intended to sound or wanted your child to feel.

But sometimes kids can be so frustrating! And they don't want to listen, even though we have all this great life experience that can help them, right?

You can't hide the junk food or dump it in the trash and expect that you are making your child change. It is like dumping an alcoholic's booze down the drain- only a temporary fix, unless they have decided for themselves that they want to change.

Until your child is ready to change, you may be wasting your time, and hurting not just their feelings, but perhaps your relationship as well.

And I don't think weight has anything to do with it, we all want out kids to eat healthfully, (childhood habits stay with us for life) and getting teens to do that is a challenge!

While we as parents may be self-motivated even in our own weight struggles, our teens may not be so motivated.

Have you ever found yourself motivated to change yourself for someone who is very critical of you or who has really hurt your feelings? I haven't. Might motivate someone to do the opposite.

But if we focus on the positives, then we can motivate anyone.

Success builds on success.

Find what they are doing well, and build on that.

My experience is that there are few truly 'lazy' people out there, but there are lots of people struggling with battles of the mind or heart and have a hard time coping with life, much less exercising. Kids are still learning so much, processing so much, and often do not know how to express their real feelings. Enter food...

You are right in that exercise is key to a healthy person, not just in body, but in mind, relieving stress, and more.

We had to get our son interested in kayaking by promising to spend equal time competing with him on the playstation- at first. Now he just enjoys kayaking with us. He wants us to join him to shoot hoops, so sometimes we do it together, sometimes he practices so he can beat us by a larger margin.

I encourage my teens to cook with me, we brainstorm on ideas when driving to school.

"What are your two favorite fruits?" "Favorite Veggies?"

We'll make a 'date' to go shop for them together.

We'll pick out an unusual looking fruit to try.

They LOVE tacos, so we'll buy the ingredients for a chicken taco salad, which they will help making, washing, chopping, sautee'ing, putting all the toppings (salad greens, tomatoes, peppers, onions, avacado) in bowls so that eveyone can choose their favorites. They LOVE taco salad, and they get tons of veggies! They put them on the plates themselves, and they really do eat them. It was a revelation for us- lol. (BAKED tortilla chips! in moderation- they choose what, and how much to eat) They love raw veggies & dip, even dipping green beans and other veggies they used to not like. we use a low fat ranch for dipping.

I ask their help in planning meals. And we do occasionally have less than healthy stuff around the house, esp during certain holidays.

All foods fit into a healthy diet, in moderation.

Think about how a small child enjoys a bowl of ice cream. It's not a big bowl, but it may take them 20 minutes or more to eat it. They play a little with it, they really savor it, they even lick the whole bowl when they are done! But they don't feel guilty! And it may be a while before they get ice cream again.

Most teens/adults aren;t even going to eat that bowl in front of another person.

And they are going to eat it so fast, because they feel guilty eating it, that they won't even really enjoy it. And it's probably a REALLY big bowl! And when they are done, they wish they had another.

In the same way, think aboiut how a toddler enjoys just one cracker, taking a long time to eat it, exploring it with his tongue, sucking on it, gumming it up, really savoring it vs. how teens/adults gobble them down without really enjoying even one.

We need to change the way we think about food.

Every food has a place in anyone's diet, in moderation.

Forbidden fruit is that much more tempting.

There is tons of really good info out there on healthy diets, etc, but I encourage all my clients (I teach nutrition ed. & basic cooking skills) to visit:

as it has basic information, recipes, and tips for REAL families, with REAL struggles, real busy schedules, etc. Also they have an e-newsletter, and it's all FREE.

I don't know if this helped at all, just sharing my .02 and experience.

Have a blessed day!


View replies by

Tabatha - posted on 02/19/2013




I have an 18 yr. old daughter with cognitive disabilities and ADHD. Other than her weight her health is great. From the age 3, she was a food addict. Over the years we have worked with doctors, friends and family to help regulate her weight, and did pretty good until she hit 9th grade. 8th grade she was 5'4" and weighed 150lbs. She hit high school and exploded gaining 40 lbs., and has progressively gained to the sum of 320lbs now in her 12th year. Her disability along with the bullying, and constant teasing, has kept her feeding her loss and despair. She has a checkup every 6mos, and the doctor doesn’t even know what to do. The doctor keeps saying that no matter what we try, she just eats her way through it. We have continued to change life up for her with meal plans and exercise, but we are without change. The damage is done prior to us coming home from work or on the weekends with her friends. We don’t keep junk food in the house; she will make her a real meal to eat. My husband and I don’t see eye to eye on dealing with her weight and eating habits, but I have tried everything he had asked to do. I believe you need to be consistence and strong on her while trying not to shame her into a tormented hell, which she lives every day. I show her compassion while talking and showing her how to treat food. How to measure and choose good choices, but with no veil, we all lose. I need help for her along with putting me and my husband on the same page. Can anyone help?

Aramanth - posted on 04/18/2009




I have struggled with my weight all my life! Ever since I was 10 years old and put on steroid drugs for an autoimmune condition I have been overweight and nothing seems to shift it.

So I made a conscious decision when I had my daughters that I would not talk about losing weight, being skinny or thin or fat or huge or anything of the kind. Instead we would talk about 'healthy eating' and 'healthy regular exercise' and 'being at a healthy weight for their height'. I let them SEE me model healthy eating, let them SEE me getting involved in exercise from an early age. If they wanted to join my exercises that was fine (I bought special very light weights for them to use when I was working out, for instance) but it was never pushed. We work on an 80-20 eating plan - if 80% of what you eat is healthy food in healthy amounts we don't fret the other 20%.

It seems to have worked. At 13 my younger daughter is smack-bang on the middle of the 'normal' range of weight for her height. She looks a little tubby next to some of her very skinny class mates but she is healthy and beautiful and I make sure she knows it. My older girl at 14 is on the heavy side of the normal range but she is VERY athletic and strong - she works out with weights regularly and does karate and Par Kour for pleasure. She is stronger than most of the boys in her class and is proud of it! Since muscle is heavier than fat for the same volume we are not worried about her weight at this stage.

I have told both of my girls that I don't want them following weight-loss diets while they are still growing. Once they have reached their full height IF they decide they want to tone and fine down a bit then we can talk about it and I will help them design an appropriate eating and exercise plan to get them where they want to be. They both have a healthy dose of self esteem so I doubt they will try to starve themselves!

Celeste - posted on 04/17/2009




I agree, it is different than when I grew up. We were tossed Nowadays we purchase so many things for the kids to keep them inside. Also, in our area, the kids dont go to area schools, so playing with friends in the neighborhood is not an option. It is harder and frustrating. I know with my daughter I try to take her for as many walks as possible and ride bikes. Im thinking of joining a gym, under the guise of for me and my health and I will have her go with me.

Traci - posted on 04/17/2009




I have the same problem with my daughter, she is 12 and lazy. I feel bad for these kids who have to start the weight battle at this age. I think it has gotten worse then when I was growing up.

[deleted account]

Thanks Celeste...My son has lost some very important people in his life and I believe has turned to food to cover the sadness and anger he feels..He is very very defensive......Thanks for the advice on "saying nothing but showing action".......That is something I have actually not thought about...You get so wrapped up in thinking you always have to say something!!!!!

Celeste - posted on 04/16/2009




That is a tough question. It depends on the kid, the issue, the family situation and how defensive they are. Sometimes saying nothing but showing action is the 'right' thing to do. maybe changing how you eat in the house and changing the activities you do.

I am struggling with this myself. My daughter is lazy, that really sums it up in our house. It is a daily battle to get her up off the sofa to move with me or her father.

Best of Luck.

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