My daughter is 13 years old she is 5 foot 7 but has gained A LOT of weight(she weighs 194 lbs). I am VERY concerned! How can I help her to lose this weight? What foods and exercises would be easy for her to do?

It is good that you are concerned. Unfortunately, overweight or obese teens have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and have an increased risk for getting other diseases. The good news is that you are addressing the problem and are asking the right kind of questions to help your daughter lose weight. To begin, it may be a good idea for you and your daughter to speak in person with a registered dietitian. She will be able to customize a meal plan that is realistic for your daughter and offer personalized advice that fits your daughter’s lifestyle. If you would rather hold off on seeing a dietitian, I would first sit down with your daughter. Speak with her in a kind and loving way and offer gentle understanding and support. Remember that you must be a role model to her during this journey so be careful about your own comments regarding your own body and treat your body with respect. Now is the time that you and your daughter can work together to get the whole family healthy. Planning is the key so try to sit down as a family and discuss what healthy eating looks like to all members and maybe make a grocery list/meal plan together. Ask your daughter for her grocery requests but encourage that all her requests are healthy. However, if she has a desire for an item that is not-so-healthy allow this. It is important that she knows she can still make choices for herself without your interference.

Now, promote activity! Teenagers need around 60 minutes of physical activity per day. This does not all have to be at the same time, either, so ask your daughter to take a nightly walk with you. Suggest that your daughter take up a recreational sport or try out in line skating. You may also suggest that the whole family get involved for a game of touch football or a nice neighborhood bike ride.

It is helpful to find out what your daughter primarily consumes when she is not with you. If you are finding that she consumes a lot of fast food, candy, or soda you should speak with her about which foods and beverages she may be able to reduce and then substitute healthier choices. She may be open to pre-packing her own healthy snacks that she can eat after school (and avoid the vending machine). Frozen grapes, low fat yogurt, string cheese and protein bars are all great options. Low sugar juice (Healthy Balance) mixed with a little club soda is a great refreshing drink that can easily take the place of the fruit punch or soda that she consumes after school.

Educate her on portion sizes. It may be fun to experiment with measuring cups and spoons so she can really get an idea of how much is one serving. This will really help when she goes out to eat too! Finally, continue to be her biggest supporter. Remember that weight gain does not occur overnight and so sustainable weight loss will not come that quickly either. But persistence is the key and if she can make a few healthy changes a week she will start down that path towards healthy weight loss.

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