Healthy Habits Help Teen Weight LossPosted: May 10, 2011 in Lifestyle by Craig Primack MD FACP
Thanks to sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits, childhood obesity has become a serious problem in the United States and many teenagers are struggling to lose weight. While weight loss surgery such as bariatric surgery is an important first step, such surgery will only be successful if your teen also corrects unhealthy lifestyle habits. So what can you do to help your child? Here are five key habits that can help kick-start successful, medical weight loss – and a healthier lifestyle.
Healthy Habit #1: Start the day off right with breakfast.
Even if your teen loves to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, encourage them to get up 10 minutes earlier and have a nutritious breakfast before leaving for school. Studies show that individuals who eat breakfast are more successful losing and maintaining weight than folks who don’t. A nutritious breakfast will kick start your teen’s metabolism and keep them from eating too much later in the day. Aim for a combination of high-fiber and lean protein, such as whole-wheat toast and Greek yogurt. In a rush? Send your child out the door with a piece of fruit or a bag of whole grain dry cereal.
Healthy Habit #2: Get active.
Teens need at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. If your child doesn’t play sports or have physical education in school, however, getting 60 minutes each day may seem daunting. Remember, it doesn’t have to be 60 minutes all at once. Bike riding to school in the morning, walking a few laps around the hallways or even shooting hoops after school are easy ways to sneak in physical activity without it feeling like exercise. Consider signing your teen up for a martial arts class: this will help them to build self-confidence in a supportive environment and get fit.
Healthy Habit #3: Snack smart.
It’s inevitable: your teen is bound to get hungry in between meals. If he is at school, however, his snack options may be limited to vending machines stocked with chips and sugary sodas. Help your teen plan ahead by sending him or her to school with healthy snack alternatives. Whether it’s a bag of low-salt pretzels, fresh fruit, or low-fat string cheese, these options all are tasty and will help give your teen the fuel they needs to stay active until dinner.
Healthy Habit #4: Cut out liquid calories.
Don’t drink your meals! Research shows that soda consumption, not to mention those high-calorie coffee shop drinks are directly linked with weight gain. Even your favorite fruit juice, if it’s high in sugar, may be causing your teen to pack on the pounds. Teach your teen to read nutrition labels and make positive choices. Dump the sugary drinks and replace soda with sugar-free, flavored water. Or make your own fruit smoothie at home to eliminate unnecessary sugar and fat.
Healthy Habit #5: Get fit as a family.
Even if you and your spouse are a healthy weight, your teen will have an easier time losing weight and adjusting to these new habits if you make it a family affair. Leave the junk food at the grocery store and stock your fridge and pantry with fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks. Make family dinners a priority and eat together at the table, not in front of the TV. Instead of a family movie night, turn off the TV and head outside. Here in Arizona, we enjoy beautiful weather year-round. Take advantage of the sunshine and hit the trails for a family hike, rather than letting your teen sit in front of the TV or computer all weekend. Most importantly, stay supportive as a family. A positive attitude and positive reinforcement (rather than constant nagging and complaining) will boost your teen’s confidence and help the entire family adopt a healthy lifestyle.