8 Ways to Help Your Tween Maintain a Healthy Weight

Whether weight is a concern for your tween or not, help reinforce body image

8 ways to help your tween maintain a healthy weight

Below are 8 ways to help your tween maintain a healthy weight .

The start of puberty and moving on to middle school can be a tumultuous time. Whether weight is a concern for your tween or not, working together is a great way to reinforce positive body image, healthy weight and healthy attitudes towards eating.

8 Ways to Help Your Tween Maintain a Healthy Weight

What are some ways that you can work together for a healthy weight and a healthy life?

  • Exercise together. Carve out time to exercise together. Even if there is only time for a walk around the block or a jump rope competition, get moving to build muscle, to release endorphins which can help a person to feel peaceful and happy, and to lower the risk of some diseases.  Having someone to exercise with is usually more enjoyable than exercising alone, plus you are more likely to stick to a workout schedule if you have someone else counting on you.  Find something you enjoy doing together, whether it’s in the yard, at the gym or in front of the TV following an exercise video.
  • Plan meals and snacks together. Planning meals together is amazing for so many reasons.  One, it gives your child a say in what is served, which may in turn lead to better eating. Two, it teaches your child about healthy choices, which provides a lifetime of benefits. Third, it keeps your family from having to turn to fast food or vending machines when hunger arises because you will have already had a plan for those times when there is less time to cook. For example, on evenings where time is short, you would have planned for a crock pot meal, a quick-to-the-table meal, or leftovers. A great way to plan meals is by using MyPlate, which is a guide for Americans for healthy eating. The plate shows the five food groups, including fruits, vegetables, protein, grains and dairy, to ideally include in each meal. When considering what to eat as a snack, talk to your child about eating foods that haven’t been well represented during meals. For instance, if there was no fruit served with lunch, snack time would be a great time for fruit. This top 8 healthy snacks for teenagers is a great resource for quick snack ideas. 
  • Cook together. Cooking together is a way to spend quality time together while passing on skills that can serve your tween throughout life. You can discuss how healthy foods translate into a healthy body, share kitchen skills and be open to important conversations with your child.
  • Eat together. Eating together is so important. It’s great family time for sharing. If no one has something to share, use conversation starters (such as “What is the best surprise you’ve ever received and why?” or “If you could fix one problem in the world, what problem would you fix?”) at the table. But most importantly, eating together at a designated eating spot, like the dining table, without distractions, like TV, helps people to listen to their body’s cue for being hungry and being full to prevent over eating.
  • Encourage one another and provide support. Make time for one another to listen, be encouraging and provide support. Some days are tougher than others, but knowing you have someone to talk to can decrease emotional eating.
  • Focus on health, not weight. Whatever your child’s weight may be, it’s important to focus on a healthy body and positive ways to have a healthy body, such as through exercise, a healthy diet and sleep. Make sure that you role model a healthy attitude towards your body and your daughter’s body and focus on attainable goals. An example of an attainable goal is building up to three days per week of exercise or eating a vegetable with every meal. 
  • Discuss media messages and provide resources with positive messages. There's no need to surround yourselves with magazines and other media that promote unhealthy eating and body image. However, there is no way to eliminate all harmful media images, so it’s important to teach your child to be media literate. Watching TV shows and commercials together and looking at images from the internet and magazines together gives you a chance to discuss topics such as the underlying message from the advertiser or creators of the image, the impact on health of being too thin, overweight, too muscular, et cetera, how the images make your child feel and more. Look for images in the media depicting positive role models to discuss.
  • Involve a doctor, a dietitian or other medical personnel as needed. If your child has body image, weight or eating issues that you feel that you cannot handle alone, your child’s doctor, a dietitian or other medical personnel can help or direct you to those who can provide assistance.

While the tween years can be chaotic at times, they are also a time of growth and of finding oneself.  Guiding your child in his/her journey towards positive body image, healthy weight and healthy attitudes towards eating is an important and rewarding role that can be achieved by working together. 

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