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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I help my tween lose weight?

    Our 11 year old daughter is overweight and I do not want her to struggle with her self image/weight while she is a teenager. In addition, I want her to be a healthy teenager/adult! How can I help her lose weight without making her feel bad?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • I am a dietitian/nutritionist with extensive research experience into diet/nutrition and children’s behaviour; Mediterranean-style whole food diet; and parental influences on young children’s diets. In … View Profile

    Creating a positive home environment around food and physical activity can go a long way - having healthy food available (keep the junk food out of the environment - it is meant to be a ‘sometimes food’ and part of the problem is that it has become an ‘everyday food’), lots of options and choices, getting her to help with meal preparation, role modelling eating of healthy food yourself, eating dinner together as a family at the table, organising active pursuits that she enjoys, perhaps go bike riding, walking together (while she still wants to do things with her parents :) etc. It is very important to gradually establish healthy habits that become part of your (and her) lifestyle, including a healthy breakfast, regular healthy meals, replacing soft drinks with water, and regular activity - make it fun. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables, high protein, cutting down on breads, low sugar, healthy fats (just changing cooking oil and salad dressings to extra virgin olive oil can make a big difference) can really help. The CSIRO put out a great book for parents that has some useful advice and recipe ideas - http://www.publish.csiro.au/pid/6175.htm. Good luck :)

  • Nik Kotlarov

    Psychologist

    Mind Zone Psychology (ME) … your mind matters… W: www.mindzone.com.au P: 0450 MY MIND E: admin@mindzone.com.au Evidence based psychological practice with demonstrated results. Mind Zone … View Profile

    Brilliant to see parents who are actively involved in their children's health.  I’m also very pleased to see the answers above dealing with role modelling exercise, and nutritional choices.
     
    I would like to contribute another factor that can be extremely helpful in promoting healthy weight.  During their childhood, we are in a great position to help our children build some healthy habits around eating.  Professionally, we notice that much improvement can come from habits that help us remain in touch with how our body responds to the food it receives.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where a lot of the eating is done with a sense of detachment, while watching TV, reading the paper, or simply ‘shovelling’ food in. 
     
    Parents can help by modelling habits that promote staying in tune with the needs of our body.  For example, variety in our foods and trying new foods can promote paying attention to how the food is experienced.  Involving the child in experimentation and creativity during the cooking and preparation process can promote a sense of engaging with our meal and is very helpful.
     
    Our body is great at surviving and we are geared to overeat as a way of protecting from starvation.  This means that we take a little longer to recognise that we’re no longer hungry, so that we continue eating a little extra.  Modelling slow and mindful eating can help your child build a healthy habit of allowing the natural cues from our body to signal to them that we’re no longer hungry.
     
    Importantly, when we starve ourselves, our body (the great survivor) responds with panic (think of what happens when our air intake is restricted).  This leads to binge eating and other unhealthy consequences as the body ensures access to what we need to survive.  I would discourage ‘yo-yo dieting’ and artificial restrictions on how much food our children eat.
     
    Finally, use the resources available to you – speak with your Doctor, Nutritionist, Psychologist, look through available literature, other parents and others.  Of course, consider engaging your child in this process – how do they see the situation, what do they want?

    Hope this helps!

  • Justice Rosta

    HealthShare Member

    I am 14 and I my self struggle with my weight but try to make things fun! Try going biking, or hiking, maybe swimming! You can help food wise as well, make fruit smoothies with strawberries and bananas with ice and to make it smooth add yogurt or milk as an example, not only will it be healthy but it will give her energy as well. I hope this helped you in some sort of way.

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