Home Supplements Healthy weight loss for teens: Do's and don'ts – Medical News Today

Healthy weight loss for teens: Do's and don'ts – Medical News Today

15 min read


Maintaining a moderate weight has many health benefits for teens and people of all ages. Although losing weight can be difficult, practicing good habits and receiving support from family members can help teens lose weight safely and gradually.

Obesity is a growing problem among adults and children alike. In fact, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), around 20% of people aged 12–19 years have obesity.

This article looks at how teens can lose weight and maintain a moderate weight while avoiding disordered eating.

When trying to lose weight, people — especially teens — need to ensure that they are getting their recommended daily quota of nutrients. Not doing so could affect their growth and development.

Being hungry may also impact a teen’s education, as they may find themselves unable to concentrate at school.

Teens who are aiming to lose weight should be careful to do so while still eating enough to meet their caloric needs. This reduces the risk of nutrition negatively affect their education.

Disordered eating may also be a concern for some teens, as eating disorders occur most frequently in this age group.

By adhering to the following tips, teens can maintain a moderate weight in a way that avoids disordered eating and helps build lifelong healthy habits.

Anyone who is concerned that they or someone they know may be experiencing disordered eating can find a list of symptoms on the National Eating Disorders Association website, along with a confidential helpline, text option, and chat support services.

A teen and any family members who may be supporting them in their weight loss or maintenance goal can adopt the following habits.

Snacking sensibly

Instead of reaching for a candy bar or bag of chips, the NIDDK recommends recharging with a piece of fruit, some baby carrots, or some hummus with a selection of sliced vegetables.

Avoiding boredom eating

Some people may reach for food when they do not know what else to do. Instead of snacking when bored, people should try to find hobbies and activities that can distract them. Some examples of activities to try include walking the dog or helping with chores.

A 2017 paper recommends mindful eating as a way of promoting healthy eating behaviors. Mindfulness is a practice based on Zen Buddhism.

According to the paper, mindful eating “supports practitioners’ sense of who they are by assuring them that they are OK in a nonjudgmental and self-accepting way. It encourages them to appreciate food rather than restricting it and starving, by having a beginner’s mind and patiently appreciating each moment with full awareness.”

Limiting added sugar

People should try to consume fewer than 10% of their daily calories from sugar, according to the NIDDK.

For example, instead of ice-cream or baked desserts, a person could opt for a banana or another naturally sweet fruit.

Limiting processed foods

Often known as “junk food,” processed foods are calorie dense but have low nutritional value. They can also be high in saturated fats.

Although someone can eat these occasionally, teens should make sure that they do not form the basis of their diet.

Enlisting the family to help

A 2015 study suggests that teens are less likely to diet, binge eat, and attempt to control their weight in unhealthy ways if their parents support them in their healthy eating goals by demonstrating healthy eating habits and the importance of being active rather than having weight-focused conversations.

Moving more

One of the best ways to lose weight or maintain a moderate weight is for a person to consume fewer calories than they burn each day.

Being active is a great way to burn more calories, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that teens aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day.

As well as aiding weight loss, physical activity can help improve cognition, bone health, overall fitness, and heart health. It can also reduce the risk of developing depression.

Swapping out unhealthy fats

Teens need fats to develop and grow. Dietary fat needs are higher for children than adults, yet people often avoid fats when trying to lose weight.

Some fats are better for health than others. Instead of cutting out fat entirely, teens should try to opt for healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and oily fish.

Sleeping well

Some studies suggest that there may be a link between insufficient sleep and having a higher weight.

Other studies suggest that teens require more sleep than adults, with a recommendation of 9–10 hours sleep per night. Teens should, therefore, make sure that they get adequate sleep to maintain a moderate weight.

Managing portions

Another thing to try to lose weight or maintain a moderate weight is to control one’s portion sizes. For example, instead of eating an entire sharer bag of chips in one sitting, consider splitting it up into smaller portions.

Consuming smaller portion sizes will decrease the number of calories a person eats in a day, which can, in turn, help aid weight loss.

Filling up on vegetables

One downside of trying to lose weight is that people may worry about feeling hungry. Loading up one’s plate with vegetables can help prevent that.

With vegetables containing fewer calories per 100 grams than most other food types, they also have the added benefit of being high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can help a person feel more satiated after eating.

Starting small

Making changes slowly can be more effective than changing a lot of different things at once. By setting small goals and making small changes, people are more likely to succeed.

Teens should make sure that their goals are realistic to allow them to stick to their routine in the long term.

Staying hydrated

The Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation cites studies suggesting that 37% of people think that they are hungry when they are actually thirsty.

By staying hydrated, people can stave off those mistaken hunger pangs. It may also be useful for people to drink a glass of water before every meal to help boost feelings of fullness.

Avoiding the following can help people meet their weight goals and stick to healthy habits.

Avoiding all treats

Cutting out certain foods entirely can make a person want them even more. So, if a person avoids all treats, they may begin to feel resentful, which may mean that they do not see success with their weight goals.

Drinking too many calories

People should try to be mindful of how many calories they are drinking. Sodas, energy drinks, and many other beverages have added sugar, which can contribute to a person consuming many more calories than they realize.

Eating even when full

It is important that people stop eating when their body tells them that they are full. People may consume unnecessary calories by eating even after they are no longer hungry because there is a widespread belief that people should empty their plates.

Preparing smaller portion sizes can help prevent wastage, as can storing leftovers for later.

Skipping meals

Skipping meals may cause someone’s metabolism to slow down or make them feel so hungry that they overeat at the next meal.

If a person is short on time, they could choose a piece of fruit, such as an apple or a banana, to take with them.

Giving up

It can be disheartening to not see much of a difference immediately, but weight loss takes time and should be more about making lifestyle changes and becoming healthier than the numbers on the scales.

Celebrating success with food

When people hit their weight goals, they should celebrate them. However, they should try to avoid celebrating them with food.

Consider buying new clothes or hobby-related equipment as a reward to prevent associating food with rewards.

Losing weight and maintaining a moderate weight can be difficult, but using the tips above, teens can make sure that they stay healthy and minimize their risk of developing a variety of different conditions.

Maintaining a moderate weight may also help teens maintain confidence and a positive self-image.

Receiving support from family members can help make it easier for teens to manage their weight in a way that avoids disordered eating.

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