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WakeMed Blogs

A Healthy Weight and Body Image for Teenage Girls

October 23, 2019

As a parent, you may be noticing unhealthy changes in your teenage daughter’s weight and you worry about the effects on her health and body image.  While your daughter might feel upset or worried about her weight, it’s important for parents to address it but in a sensitive way that focuses on your teenage daughter’s overall health.

4 Tips for Encouraging Healthy Weight in Your Teen Daughter

Here are some helpful tips to get started:

#1 – Focus On a Positive Body Image

It’s so important that your teenage girl know that you love them unconditionally regardless of their body size. Comment on your teen’s strengths and positive qualities regularly.  ‘No one’s body is perfect but yours is perfect for you. You are enough just as you are.’

#2 – Role Model for Your Teen

One of the best ways parents can help set their teenage girl up for healthy habits early on is to model these behaviors themselves. If we are expecting the teen to limit their sodas or chips, then try not to keep these tempting snacks in the house for the whole family.  Instead, set aside a time to go out once a week to enjoy a treat such as ice cream.  Healthy dietary habits modeled in the home have been shown to persist when children move out.

#3 – Encourage Small Changes

Suddenly removing all sweets, demanding 2-hour jogs, and taking away phone privileges will backfire and set your teen up for failure. Start with simple changes – ones that she can complete and feel good about. When she succeeds with small steps, she’ll build her self-confidence and stay motivated.

#4 – Don’t Micro-Manage

If you comment on every food choice, your teen is likely to get angry and withdraw. You’ll also damage her confidence in her own decision-making. Continue to provide a variety of healthy options.

Empower a Healthy Lifestyle with Knowledge

Review these healthy lifestyle basics with your teens by “counting down”:

5 – Aim for 2 fruit and 3 vegetables a day.  If this seems impossible, start with something more realistic like eating 1 more fruit a day.  Make this easy by providing cut up vegetables with hummus or apples with peanut butter in the fridge.

3 – Aim for three balanced meals a day including a high protein breakfast.

2 – Limit screen time to 2 hours a day.

1 – Aim for 1 hour of physical activity daily.  Start with doing family activities together, find a walking trail to explore or activities the teen enjoys.

0 – Limit sugary drinks like juice and sodas.  Drink more water or low-fat milk.

For more healthy meal ideas, visit the WakeMed Energize Pinterest page here.

Referrals to Pediatric Weight Management Program

If you or your teen is concerned about their weight or related medical conditions, The Pediatric Weight Management Program can be a great resource for your family, with locations in Raleigh, Apex, and Clayton.

Together, a multidisciplinary team consisting of pediatric obesity specialists, dietitians, an exercise specialist and a pediatric psychologist work with your family to create a personalized treatment plan to improve lifestyle behaviors and weight related medical conditions for your teen. The program also offers free exercise options and family cooking classes. A team member will follow up with your family every 1-2 months.  If necessary, specialized diet plans, weight loss medications, or bariatric surgery may be additional options discussed.

Call 919-235-6439 to schedule an appointment.

References

  • CDC/MMWR. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, United States, 2017
  • CDC/NCHS. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2014
  • Golden NH, et al. Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents.  American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report.  Pediatrics 2016, 138(3): e1-e10.     

About Samareh Hill, MD

Dr. Samareh Hill is a board-certified pediatrician with WakeMed Physician Practices with expertise in pediatric obesity.  She serves as the medical director for WakeMed Pediatric Weight Management Program and the WakeMed Energize Program.

About Jessica Tomasula, PhD

Dr. Jessica Tomasula is a licensed pediatric psychologist with WakeMed Physician Practices Pediatric Weight Management.