Overweight Pre-teen and Poor Eating Habits

Updated on May 25, 2010
T.H. asks from Waterford, CT
9 answers

My step-daught is 11 years old and somewhat over weight. She has told us that she is unhappy with her weight, but we're having trouble getting her to change her eating habits and lack of exercising.
Her mom and dad are both big people (both height, size, and weight). My step-daughter will always be a bigger girl than the "norm" because of the way she's built. Our biggest problem is that my step-daughter often eats as much or more than her dad at meal times. He is very concerned and is also trying to change his habits to set a better example.
I'm looking for any ideas/suggestions on how we can help her with both making better choices and learning to like her body.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I was going to write something, but decided to read others responces first.

WOW!!! Daisey's responce is perfect and much better than I would have done. Read and follow her suggestions.

Thanks to Daisey and good luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

For her to make better choices, you have to make better choices also. There are a few tricks that I can give you.
Use smaller plates, do not fill plates so that you cannot see any plate-leave room in-between the meat and the veggies and the starch.

Drink a glass of water before a meal, also offer fruit at the dinner table- I do this and its a hit!

No second helpings- this is where calories are added up!

Stop drinking soda all together- 2% milk at the dinner table or ice water. We also cut cranberry/raspberry juice with water- yummy

.Limit chips-cookies-ice cream for special occasions instead make jello or offer cut up oranges-apples-pineapple-watermelon-stick to a healthy serving.

Have two veggies at the dinner table-no butter sauce

Eat more chicken-turkey-no skin either! lol Limit red meat

For lunches You can tuna with light mao-peanutbutter and All Fruit Jellie

We like bagels but we buy the small ones- less calorie cream cheese

NO fried food, its so bad for you!

Do not eat anything from a box- cook fresh meals!!! so good!

Have a nice salad with dinner-low calorie dressings are great-only 2 table spoons needed per salad.

Momma if your the shopper , she cannot eat what you do not buy. Also after she eats if she is still hungry. Make her wait, it takes 20 minutes for your tummy to tell your head your full.

Keep ice water handy in the frigde.

Start taking fun walks with her, playing in the yard, tennis, beach walks!! so fun with a 11 year old.

Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

The only thing i can really suggest is dont try and get her to change only her eating habits. Change the familys eating habits. If you and your husband change what you eat and start exercising then its not just directed at her. Its going to probably get harder as she gets older. Maybe you could start walking togeather everynight, or joining a ymca and getting involved in classes, swimming, etc. there as a family. If it is changed for everyone then she will be going along with it and even though she may always be a little bigger she will feel healthier and learn to eat healthier which will in turn make her feel better about herself also.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

Our children's generation is the first not expected to live longer than their parents. 1/3 children born today will be obese and develop diabetes if things proceed the way they are currently.

We're in a state of crisis with our kids.

It was really interesting watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution a few weeks ago because parents really seem to be trying to do what is in their own children's best interests, but we're failing miserably.

My husband commented on a neighbor's actions this weekend and how about 8 kids responded. They'd been playing together almost all day, and around 6pm (we were preparing for an impromptu block party), she went to get a snack. She came out with apples, carrots and peanut butter. My husband said the kids devoured them like candy.

Because she's a step-daughter, it make it harder unless you have full custody because what you implement at home may not be supported at mom's house.

I'd make every effort you can right now to implement as many healthy lifestyle changes as possible into your lives. If she loves hamburgers, start making them with ground turkey. Always serve a fruit/vegetable with every meal. Start taking walks with her or riding bikes - use it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with her prior to the teen years.

She may hit a growth spurt and thin out quite a bit, but it sounds like genes will keep her a little larger than the average kid her age. That's OK as long as it's lean body mass (muscle) vs. higher fat content.

It's great that you're taking an interest in her future. It's such a hard age to try not to create body image issues while still trying to instill healthy habits.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I was a big kid and became an even bigger adult :-). I've struggled with my weight all my life and have only in the last 2 years started getting myself under control. I can remember as a kid my family going to McDonald's and me asking for 2 large sandwiches and my parents buying them for me!! Now, in no way do I think my weight is entirely my parents fault. At the very least I have had the past 20 years as an adult to take control and have failed to do that, but I do wish that my parents had provided better eating and exercise habits from a young age so that I may not have had such a struggle.

My suggestion is to do this as a family. Everybody work together to eat healthier. Learn together about nutrition. Take walks or bike rides together at night. If this is something fun and challenging that the whole family does together it will be a more positive experience for everyone. Involve your daughter in making the dinner menu and in planning the family exercise for the day.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree with the PP--change EVERYONE's eating and exercise habits--we ALL eat this and we ALL go for a walk everyday after dinner. It'll be good for everyone. No junk food in the house at all. For anyone. Fruit for snacks.
Better she eats a 2nd pork chop that a dozen cookies.
Also, limit video games to about 30 min per day.
Is she in any sports or activities?
Would your healthcare cover a nutritionist?
Just a few thoughts...good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Hi There,

Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario. A couple of things that I would add to the other posts have to do with including her! I definitely agree that modeling and the foods available make a huge difference in what kids eat, but she is at a great age to talk about what she likes and have a say in what is prepared for dinner (or lunch and breakfast too). Perhaps it is looking for healthier receipes together and then going shopping for the ingredients and cooking together. This not only gives ownership of the food choice, but also teaches great skills related to cooking. To reinforce this, perhaps you might do some research together at www.nutrition.gov (the USDA food pyramid) or typing "Healthy Recipes" into google. This will help her learn what is healthy - foods, portions, etc. Also, in terms of milk - I encourage you to go with 1% milk. 2% is still considered a "high fat" milk and is not recommended for anyone over the age of 2. It may take a bit to fully change over, but I encourage you to try.

Another thing to consider is that you want to be careful about the "D" word (diet) - this should really be about making healthy choices to help fuel our bodies (both for the kids and adults) and less about weight. When we make healthy choices, the weight often takes care of itself. Almost any child specialist will tell you that the last thing we want to talk about is dieting for the sake of losing weight. Especially at age 11, when body images are forming and taking hold for future behaviors.

In terms of physical activity - start small. For anyone who is not accustomed to working out or playing sports it can be very intimidating to try something new. The most important thing here is that activity does not have to be organized and it does not have to be "formal". It could be playing a game or riding a bike. Perhaps, gardening or going for a walk. Talk to her about the things she likes to do - if it is being with her friends, suggest that they go miniature golfing or on a scavenger hunt in the neighborhood or local park. Anything that gets them outside and away from sitting around. The same is true for the adults - we all know how hard it is to find time to "exercise", but think about it in terms of what the family is doing together - what types of activities are you all doing that get you moving?

I hope this helps - good luck!



answers from Boston on

Have you tried using lunch plates? It's an old WW trick. Using smaller plates makes you think you're eating more. Once she has finished her serving, have her wait 5-10 minutes before she has more. She may decide she is full. If she still wants more try carrot or vege sticks in dressing, a great lo-cal snack. My understanding about weight loss with children is to focus on healthy eating habits and more activity. Maybe you could take a family walk after dinner? Good for all of you and a great bonding time as well!! Good luck, and I hope you can help her feel wonderful about her self, even if her body isn't just right yet!!



answers from Los Angeles on

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Let me help your family.

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