17 Yr. Old over Weight

Updated on April 01, 2008
R.A. asks from Tulsa, OK
6 answers

I have never had a problem with my weight so I don't know how to talk to my step daughter about it and her, father doesn't feel like he should tell her she can't have something. I have been quiet about this to long and now I'm putting my foot down. It has been so bad now she starting to sneek food so I had to put chains and locks in my Kitchen. Like I said she is 17 how can I help her? Her mom's a big women so I know she eats like this at home but I have put a stop to it at my house. Some how I need to teach her how to eat healty no mater where she is. She doesn't talk to me when she comes over unless I speak to her. She doesn't like to go out and do anything with the family she just likes to sit in the house on the internet all day thats the only thing she does other than eat when she is here. I know the chains are not going to help her father told me to put them there. I'm not going to stop buying mac&cheese or chips because my kids shouldn't have to suffer also. They don't get that kind of stuff all the time.

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answers from Tulsa on

Before you can teach her how to eat healthy, you need to learn to accept her for who she is. Of course having a weight problem is not a good thing, and will cause other problems down the line, but most people overeat because of low self esteem or other issues going on, and if she has a beautiful thin stepmother who is CHAINING AND LOCKING UP THE FOOD (WHAT THE HELL???), that is going to make those issues worse and she will only end up eating more. Instead of focusing on her appearance, try getting to know who she is on the inside and loving her for that person. Once she feels she can trust you to care about her no matter what, she will listen to what you have to say about becoming healthy. Until then, she won't hear a word out of your mouth. I have struggled with my weight for years and have recently gone from a size 18 to a size 10 and it wasn't because someone humiliated me into it--I had to get things right within me before I could change myself without. You are only making a bad situation worse by what you're doing. Please, please try a different approach. Spend time with her. Talk to her. Most of all, LISTEN to her. But please stop humiliating her. Good luck.

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answers from Tulsa on

Chains and locks in the kitchen?? That is only going to hurt her self esteem and bring up a sense of resentment! Please take those down!! You are very lucky you have never had to struggle with weight issues; unfortunately I have. Your step daughter is almost an adult and needs to make the weight decision for herself. Maybe you could buy a book or two that discusses the risks associated with being overweight. Before she can attempt to become healthy she needs to know why it is so important. It needs to be realistic as well..... McDonalds won't chain their doors closed! Have you invited her to a Weight Watchers meeting? It is a very realistic plan that teaches one to control their portions and think about what they put in their mouths. Sometimes overeating can be a way to cope..... I know it was for me. I've slowly learned that by evaluating my feelings and substituting healthier foods (baked instead of fried, diet pop) I feel better and am getting to watch myself become healthier. Please talk to her as an adult and take down the chains. That doesn't teach anything but shame. (Remember the old Wilson song "break free from the chains" :) Please let me know if I can help in any other way. Good luck and God bless!



answers from Huntsville on

I agree - remove the chains immediately!! That will only backfire on you - she'll resent you for sending her the message that she is fat and overeats and your food needs to be 'protected' from her. Being an overweight teenager may be affecting her self esteem, and eating is a coping mechanism. Remember that at 17 she is almost an adult, and the decision needs to be hers. She needs loving support not a stepmom who is a member of the food police. Showing her how to eat/live by example is probably the best you can do for her. Make sure there isn't any junk food in the house when she visits, and that there are lots of healthy options for her to choose from when she is hungry. Now that warmer weather is coming, find fun things to do together as a family outside to get exercise - craft fairs, visit public gardens or amusement parks. You could casually invite her to join you at they gym - don't force it if she doesn't want to go, but make sure she knows when you go and that she can come. If you feel close enough to her to have a heart-to-heart, you could sit down and tell her she can come to you if she wants help with weight loss and a healthier lifestyle - - of course only if you really are willing to go the distance. Weight watchers, a registered dietician, and a personal trainer at a gym would be great options for helping her learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle when she's ready to take that step.



answers from Tulsa on

okay... you are not an evil stepmother. I'm actually glad you are concerned enough to go to extremes. The advice given that said "if it's not there, she can't eat it" is good advice, but there's also an issue of OVEREATING. Is she just making poor eating choices, or is she overeating? My husband is a personal trainer and nutritionist. Even eating "diet" or "healthy" foods can result in gaining weight if the portions are not proper. You probably know this already.

Since you can't change the way she eats at home, and your husband is not willing to do anything, all you can do is control what's in your home. Do you have the kind of relationship with her that would allow you to talk to her? Have you already done that? I'm thinking that at 17, whether you have the food at home or not, she'll find a way to get it, if she really wants it. And if it's an overeating issue, she'll just continue to eat too much.

The only thing I can think of that might help is talking with her. Explain that you're concerned about what kinds of health problems might be in her future if she continues to make bad choices or overeat. Does she have any family members that have the same eating habits that have health issues. If so, you can use them as examples.

For lack of a better explanation, here's mine: Some people don't have the little switch in their brain that tells them they're full. Those people have to make an effort to watch how much of something they eat, and stop when they've reached the proper portion limit.

I understand why you tried locking up the food, but I don't think it will be effective if she doesn't make changes in the way she eats ALL the time. Plus... even if she doesn't get it from your cabinets, she'll get it somewhere else. (probably by bringing it with her)



answers from Fayetteville on

I'm afraid that if you continue with your digust toward her eating habits, and don't truly accept her for who she is (heavy or not), then you will earn the title in her eyes as the "wicked stepmother". She needs your acceptance, healthy food choices, and not feel like you are the food police. Honestly, not only will this destroy your relationship with her, but it will destroy any self-esteem that she has. At 17, she knows she is overweight, but if her home life has been unstable, she may have turned to food as a comfort. There is a fabulous new TV show on TLC, called "I Can Make You Thin" that may help her. This whole thing of "putting your foot down" is going to backfire, and it sounds like you don't want that to happen. The only reason she is sneaking food is because of the judgement she feels, and she feels like she can't eat openly. I know that you are truly concerned for her health, but there are better ways to go about it.



answers from Oklahoma City on

You're not going to help her by making her feel bad. The bottom line is, when it comes to losing weight, it's up to the person that needs to lose it. Most overweight people know they have a problem and they don't need someone throwing it in their face. (I know, I've been there since my 4 year old's birth and I'm just now starting to lose weight with success). You are creating a power struggle over the issue of her weight by trying to control it. Weight is a very personal issue not subject to discipline from outsiders (the discipline must come from within). The best thing you could possibly do is accept her for who she is.
I know your gut reaction is to protect her health wise and socially; but our bodies are our own. Especially at 17 years old, she's old enough to decide what's right for her and old enough to have some ingrained patterns that are hard for her to break, let alone someone else. Locking the food up is insulting. That's a major insult to the trust between the two of you. If you really want to help, you're going to have to apologize for that. You need to regain her trust so that she will feel safe trusting your advice and coming to you with questions. Give her some time to forgive and rebuild the trust. Then you can show by example what healthy is. Have well balanced meals with lots of attention paid to portion sizes, use measuring cups and smaller plates. Have healthy snacks like nuts and fruit. Plan meals and snacks very carefully and rather than locking or hiding things, make sure you don't have unhealthy things in the house. Make going for a walk every weekend she's there a habit, create activities that are physical like having a picnic and swimming and hiking at a lake. You both need to understand that a healthy weight loss is going to be a slow and sometimes tedious process, losing at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week.
More important than losing weight, at this point, is to build a foundation of positive (or at least neutral) body image which will help her to follow healthier habits. Teach respect. If you respect her for what she is, she will in turn respect herself and treat her body with more respect. One of the most important things I had to learn before I could lose the weight was that I was a process, not an end product. I wasn't going to just step on the scale and magically be thin because I starved myself for a day or 2 once a week; I have to accept and respect my body for what it is at each stage. And accept the meager 1-2 pounds a week. But I've been at it since Christmas and have lost 25 pounds!
Finally, remember that the goal is health. She has a choice to make if her mother is teaching her bad habits. But she might be genetically predisposed to being large. Again, accepting her for who she is is very important.

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