Advice for Mother of Teenage Girl

Updated on February 07, 2008
K.P. asks from Williamstown, MA
18 answers

My 13 year old daughter is very active, but quite a bit overweight. I have asked my pediatrician's advice, but she she maintains that her proportions have remained consistent throughout her growth curve. I can see her body image is affecting her self esteem and the way she is treated by other kids. Can anyone recommend a book on how to address eating and weight issues with girls this age? Any other suggestions?

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answers from New York on

Many girls go through this phase - leave her alone! Focusing on weight will make her fat for life - just have a lot of healthier stuff in the house. I am a fat adult whose parents made weight all important - consequently I was sneaking food everywhere and all the things I wasn't allowed to eat were all I wanted. I raised two thin children who were allowed to eat everything and consequently don't find forbidden foods too exciting - I see them eating apples and clementines all the time.

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answers from New York on

My daughter, who will now be five has always been overweight. About 6 months ago the doctor finally had it, (he is a stickler about weight) and advised me that is 25 lbs over weight and has high blood pressure. They never checked her blood pressure before. So I sat down with her and told her that I could help make her feel better she needs to understand that we all need to change the way we eat. I told her that her heart wasn't healthy because she wasn't exactly eating the right foods. I never told her that she was fat or even over weight. I said some peoples hearts just aren't as strong as others and that we will work together to make it stronger. We changed to drink only water, snacks are either fruit, jello or if we have to 100 calorie packs. It has worked. I had everyone in on it. So everyone fed her the same things. She thinks everyone is on a diet so we can ALL be healthier. She has now lost 10lbs and grew 2 inches. She is almost back on the chart. I would let her have cake at parties and stuff but in very small portions so she wouldn't be left out. I even made the school participate. Sometimes it is easier to keep it as simple as possible and not make such a big fuss of it. Once she looses the weight her confidence will improve and she will thank you for it, although she won't really know how much work you put into it. Good luck! I hope that helped. I know it will be harded with her age.



answers from New York on

Perhaps you may want to look into consulting another doctor and get another opinion. If she is active and eating reasonably well maybe there is a medical reason that can be treated. Your daughter's proportions being consistent does not mean she is not overweight. Just because she was overweight as a kid does not mean she needs to remain that way as a teenager and ultimately as an adult.
We are all becoming aware of the additional health concerns an individual has to deal with as a result of caring excess weight over time but the emotional factor at her age is huge. As I am sure you know or you would not be reaching out for advise, self esteem is so important to a teenage girl. Feeling good about yourself is necessary to get through these years. It seems to be many girls job to tear down others to be cool and feel better about themselves. I am a big believer in what you think of yourself as a teenager reflects greatly on how you view yourself as an adult and in many cases your level of success.
You are great mother to recognize this problem and try to help her while she is still young. I can not image the pain you feel knowing her view of herself is not as high as it should be and seeing others not treating her with the respect that she deserves. I wish you the best of luck in helping her.



answers from Albany on

I would suggest reading The Weight Loss Cure by Kevin Trudeau. Even going through Phase One can be helpful. She must avoid diet soda, MSG and aspartame, no exceptions! If her hypothalamus is "stuck" the other phases of the diet will do her good and the weight will stay off. It is safe even at her age. The bottom line is that obesity kills and shortens lifespan. This is not just a self esteem issue but a very important health issue that needs addressing.




answers from New York on

I am the mother of three daughters who are a few years younger than yours. I recommend having her join a sport that will make her run like soccer, field hockey, basketball, track, or even swimming. Participating in team sports is an excellent way to make friends as well as excercise. If you want her to take off a few pounds I would throw out the junk food and replace with fruit, veggies and crackers. Try to replace her meals with oatmeal (quaker brown sugar) for breakfast with a piece of fruit, the fiber will fill her up for hours. At lunch try whole grain bread with cheese, etc. Just try to replace her food with healthy choices and lots of protein and fiber which will fill her up more and make her eat less. I recently read that three servings of calcium daily will make you lose weight because the calcium does something in your body which makes you burn more calories. I also read that fish oil supplements have been proven in studies to burn excess calories. If you can, see a nutritionist; my sister-in-law just went to one recently and lost weight just by changing her food choices. She is now working on excercising. If she is really unhappy and you feel she is quite overweight, I would do something about her weight, see what a nutritionist says. Good luck!!



answers from New York on

Yale has an endocrinology clinic
also ymca has a gym class enrollment for kids



answers from New York on

I don't have a teenager, but I do teach high school, and am a gymnastics coach. With gymnastics body image is always such a big issue. I don't have any books to suggest, but I just know that teenagers want to be successful at something. Play up her strengths, and put her into activities to which she can excell. That along with continually telling her that she is beautiful will help build her self-esteem.

Another thing, I am not sure how she eats, but maybe try only having healthy foods around the house. Teach her how to eat healthy. Show her what some good healthy snack alternatives are. And of course, everyone needs the indulgence every once in a while :) Good luck!



answers from New York on

K., She may be active

However she needs to excersize DAILY

Put her in a sport, Chearleading, Soccer, swimming,
At 13 there should be several afterscool activities she is intrested in, This will help her TONE up, and THIN out
and MAKE TONS AND TONS of friends.

Remember She doesn't have to be THIN,

IF you buy her some clothes that fit her WELL, and are Classic MODERN, and TEEN looking she will start to FEEL she looks pretty,

Also a NEW hair cut Have the salon show her how to recreate the look, and eyebrows and manicure and pedicure ALWAYS relax us and make us feel like princesses

Mascara and lip gloss is all I would allow a 13 year old to wear

OLD NAVY has plenty of very flattering plus sized clothes

Remember when buying things they should flatter her BODY type,

Make her try everything ON in the store and bring TONS of things in the dressing room,

Let her purchase OUTFITS not just PANTS or a Shirt,

This will HONESTLY go a long way to restoring her self image

If you don't have money for the clothes,
TRY Second hand stores, and

Good luck


PS I have a son in JUNIOR Highschool,
When I ask him Why he likes a girl,
He says Because "she is NICE to me"

Another really great place to meet GOOD friends is at religious activities for Youth and Junior Youth
I am a BAHAI We always have things going on for the kids
As a matter of fact there is a NEBY fest and Ayyamiha Celebration coming up soon, and you DO NOT have to be a Bahai to participate in ANYTHING.
For my state, you can google your state and Bahai, and find some one in your area and they should have the information.
Just so you could see what we are all about.



answers from New York on

teenagers are sooo tough to connect with if she is connecting with you sit down and see what she is willing to do not what you want or other people's opinions. listen more than talk. go to for spiritual books God is love, good luck



answers from Binghamton on

for one-go to another dr. it shouldnt matter that her weight has stayed the same if she is even a little over weight theres an issue. most drs (there was an article on about this topic about a month ago) arent using the language they need to or caring enough to help our youth.

I have a friend whos mother berrated (im having a misspelled day im sorry) her for not being perfect like her sister and now she is over weight and eats because she isnt "loved". her dr told her mom that she was just "big" so she was never helped.

ok sorry about the rant i just get heated over the topic.

try joining your local Y-the family rates are usually very reasonable and then the whole family can get in on the activity. if thats out of your price range institute a family walk every night no one is exempt. try to get everyone involved so then your daughter can see that everyone needs to be fit not just her. work on portion controll-i know its (sorry for the phrase but it fits) beating a dead horse but i have seen it work my husband lost 40 lbs by portioning and moderate exersize.

dont give up,
hope this helps,



answers from New York on

Hi K.. I don't really have a book recommendation for you, but perhaps your daughter's phys. ed teacher would have some suggestions for you.

If she has always been overweight, and if you can honestly say that her eating/activity habits aren't those that would lead to a weight problem, I agree with the suggestion of consulting an endocrinologist.

I know that you said she's active, but that could mean a lot of things. I'd be sure that she's getting some fun physical activity daily and that her tv and computer time are limited.

I know that another member said to control and monitor everything that she eats, but I have to respectfully disagree with that advice. She should be learning to make good food choices, and having a daughter who is almost 13, I also know that it's not possible to monitor everything she eats - in the middle school cafeteria, kids can buy their own snacks, trade things with friends, she is at Girl Scouts, 4H, gifted writers group, is a set designer for the school drama club, in ski club - and I can't control what she eats there. Your teen is probably places where you can't control if or what she eats, too.

I think the best thing is to educate your daughter, and keep yourself educted. Don't keep things in the house that are full of fat and no nutrition. Read labels carefully - I picked up a box of granola bars in the store the other day and discovered that they have 14 grams of fat each! I'd limit things like fast food, soda, etc. but I wouldn't make all treats completely off limits because that doesn't teach reasonable lifetime eating habits, and I've seen where parents don't allow any junk food and it leads to bingeing or sneaking food (my almost 13 year old's best friend falls into this category)

Good luck! I know this is a really challenging age.



answers from New York on

Please do not nag her or let anyone do the same. Tell her she looks the best, get her clothes that make her look good. Remind her she is your daughter and you are proud of her always. Give her all foods, control the proportions, work out a meal plan in private and signals for you to convey to her which are just in between you both. So that never in front of others she will be subject to humility, while remaining conscious of what goes into her mouth.
As a mother daughter team join a fitness program that u both will enjoy doing together, this way you can improve things together while staying positive.



answers from New York on

Excess Weight is an inflamation. Increase her intake of Omega's to 4 per day. Careful of where the fish oil is originating and that it is from Cold Water Mercury Free Fish. I have some recommendations for you if you would like. Just email back and I will help you further. Dieting is not the answer, diet's don't work-lifestyle changes do. There are some gentle approaches you can offer without crossing the line into "depravation"
Best of luck
D. K



answers from New York on

I am certain that what you want for your daughter is to be happy and comfortable with herself. The only way this will occur is if you are comfortable with her. Unfortunate the images that we are exposed to everyday through all the media devises is the perfect size -0. My only suggestion is not to focus on the weight but on the interest that she has. Build on her interest and less on her weight. Activity such marital arts will help with self esteem and physical work out, swimming, softball, tennis, dancing are just some of the things she can do. I was the mother of an over weight daughter, the one thing I learned that I can share is that your daughter will not loss weight until she wants to loss it. As in the case of my daughter she was heavy during her tweens and teens, she had super self esteem and still does. She decided at 18 to loss weight on her own. She has never gained the weight back even after having two daughters of her own. Don't focus on her weight, focus on how amazing she is.



answers from New York on

Keep supporting your daughter and being as positive as possible. Remember that everyone is built differently and their bodies react to food differently. Swimming is a great exercise. I have watched a friend's child really slim down since she has taken on swimming (and water polo - she loves them!) Also, look at what the family as a whole is eating. Focus on healthy eating habits for everyone. I lost 40 lbs six years ago and it came off quickly when I changed the way I ate. I decided to eat fruit and vegetables with almost every meal; I cut out all bread, except some low carb muffins and I found a wonderful whole grain flax seed bread made by "The Baker." Big rule - NO PASTA. Eating chicken, pork, steak and lots of delicious salads (I call them garbage salads b/c I put lots of different veggies and meats in them) worked really well. Turkey & ham sandwiches for lunch - no pb&j. The whole family became really healthy and my children love eating this way too -- my 10 year old daughter (who was four when I started this) began asking to bring salads and lots of fruit to school for lunch because she loved them so much. It is sometimes hard to have kids eat healthy all the time, and time-consuming on your part to have to prepare every meal, but the outcome is really worth it. If the kids want sweet snacks, strawberries are great! Also, cut down on the milk - regular 1% or lowfat milk actually has a lot of sugar in it :( Dairy products, however, such as yogurt and cheese, are helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Remind her to drink water too! Sometimes kids still like the sweet apple & grape juices and they really don't need them (and no soda). One rule of thumb - a piece of cake is fine once in awhile, so are cookies too, but remind your daughter that if she indulges, she should drink a little extra water the next day. There are so many of us that struggle with weight issues and if you can think of eating in terms of just eating the healthiest way you can, it really makes life easier (and don't obsess or criticize if it doesn't work). Be active as a family too -- family walks, bike rides, trips to the amusement park, skiing, etc. We also got a dog - the daily walks help all of us!



answers from Buffalo on

It's not specifically for teenagers, but I like Dr. Oz's book You: On a Diet because it describes what happens to your body when you eat, how things are processed, and what gets stored as fat. There are a lot of cartoon pictures of organs to make it easy to visualize. Another great book is The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene. Both books focus on how you should treat your body so that your body is working for you in the best way, and not about dieting. Good luck.



answers from Buffalo on


The easiest way is to go organic. Sounds silly but everyone I know that struggled with weight and decided to transition over to organic foods is now at a healthy weight including myself. It is something the whole family can do. It is better for the whole family and isn't a diet just a change to healthy eating. The reason organic or even all natural is better for the body and help someone struggling with weight is that there are no hydrogenated oils (known to stay in the body and form fat cells and just not good for you), preservatives (also stay in the body, we can not digest them), and corn syrup ( which is just really bad for you and found in so many foods. There are others but those are the worst things for the body. Many bodies react by putting on weight. Start reading the labels so you know what you are feeding yourself and your daughter. It is amazing what they put in food that is not actually food. When your body can't digest something b/c it is not food it is stored in the body. Start giving her a daily multi vitamin if you are not already and try to buy as much organic as possible.

Two stories of how switching organic has affected my life and someone I care about. I was never really overweight but towards the end of high school always had an extra 10 lbs. When pregnant with my first child I had started transitioning to organic food. I had started out 20 lbs overweight when pregnant and only gained 14lbs during pregnancy. After birth I lost the 14 I had gained instantly and was 20 lbs lighter than before pregnancy all b/c I was eating organic food. Again after having my second child I went right back to my previous weight, but still thinner than when i was in college. I accredit it all to eating healthy organic food. But I still eat my carbs, mac and cheese etc, daily. But it is all natural organic mac and cheese. I believe all b/c I am not putting artificial foods in my body on a regular basis. Oh and I don't exercise which i would like to but at the moment don't have time. You shouldn't be overweight b/c you don't exercise especially at 13..

The other story is my brother's girlfriend was 50lbs overweight and lost it in 5 months after switching to organic food. SHe continues to eat organic food and a year later has kept the weight off. She had been 50lbs heavier for years.

Hope this helped and hope you make the transition to organic food. It is more expensive but worth every penny. A healthy life.


answers from New York on

What she needs from you more than anything is your support. She doesn't need you telling her she is fat and her body shouldn't look the way it does. If she chooses to look into things go ahead and support that but don't push anything on her. She needs to know that she is perfect the way she is and her mother is the strongest example she can have. She needs help getting thru being a tween. Kids are cruel. They always have been and always will be. Teach her how to deal with it not change to make them happy. Best of luck. This is so hard for all mother's and daughters.

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