Everyone wants to look good and maintain a healthy weight. Teenagers, especially, are under pressure to look a certain way, which oftentimes, isn’t an achievable goal. Popular media portrays an unrealistic “ideal” that teens try to emulate, sometimes dieting and exercising to extremes in an effort to look like a pop star or other celebrity.
Healthy Body Weight
Research indicates that about 1/2 of all teenage girls and 1/4 of teenage boys have tried a diet in order to change their bodies. Furthermore, about 1/3 of teen girls who are at a healthy weight diet in hopes of becoming slimmer. Clearly, teenagers need to be educated about the dangers of striving for a body that is unhealthy for the purpose of meeting some magazine cover standard. Looking good is nice, but feeling good is more important.
Typical Teen Diets
Although maintaining a healthy weight is wise, teenagers (and many adults) often go about losing excess weight in a most unhealthy manner. Skipping meals, eating one food in excess while consuming no others, taking diet pills, or substituting diet drinks for meals are all examples of things that people do in an effort to slim down. While the scale may show that you are losing weight, dieting in these ways is hard on your body. Additionally, studies show that these methods seldom result in long term weight loss.
It is a good idea to start with a check up since many teens go through a “chunky” stage that will take care of itself as the teenager’s height catches up with their weight. Kids of all ages, teens included, don’t necessarily grow evenly – sometimes they have a growth spurt and are long and lanky, other times, they are a bit round for a while. In either case, maintaining a well balanced diet and an active lifestyle is all that is needed to keep on track.
For those teenagers who truly are overweight, dieting for weight loss may be beneficial. Most doctors agree that the best way to permanently lose weight is to increase physical activity while consuming a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and lean sources of protein. Restriction of calories should not be severe – the body needs an ongoing source of fuel in order to work efficiently.
One of the best ways to maintain a slim, healthy body is to exercise. Walk, run, swim, and ride bikes whenever you get the chance. Get in the habit of choosing the stairs rather than riding on the escalator or elevator. Regular physical activity benefits both the body and the mind. Exercise is a great stress reliever and helps to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Start your day with a healthy breakfast.
- Eat a variety of foods every day.
- Try to eat whole grains and other fibre rich foods – they are healthy and filling.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid soft drinks or fruit juices.
- Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry, but stop when you feel full.
- Keep an eye on portion sizes. Restaurant meals are often twice the amount that you need to eat. Take the remainder home for another meal.
- Snacking is fine, but be sure to choose wisely.
How Safe is Dieting for Kids?
If you’re concerned about your child dieting and need more information, take a look at ‘Is Dieting Safe For Kids?’ on The Safe Slimming website, where you’ll also find lots of interesting articles about exercise, dieting and healthy eating.