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    Raising Fit Kids: Healthy Nurtition, Exercise, and Weight

      This content is selected and controlled by WebMD's editorial staff in collaboration with Sanford Health Systems.

    Set the Stage for Success continued...

    Research supports ideas that may seem like common sense: Overweight teens don't feel happy about their size. They don't want to be teased at school. But they do want to feel in control.

    Start with changes at home.

    Help your kid succeed by making good changes for everyone in your family -- including yourself. If you single out one person, it won't work. He’ll feel criticized and punished, not motivated. Everyone in the family will benefit when you set health goals together.

    Share your struggle.

    Changes might be hard to make, even for the adults. It's OK if your teen sees you struggling to build new habits. Let him hear your frustration as you waver between a healthy snack like carrots and hummus versus chips and dip. Let him know that it can be hard to make the time and energy to go for a walk around the neighborhood. But remind him -- and yourself -- that feeling good afterward is worth it.

    Set Up Lifestyle Changes

    Help your teen tweak some of her habits. That can help her slim down and be healthier overall. The right amount of sleep, less time in front of the TV, phone, and computer, and stress-relief tricks all help her have more energy to make good choices. But you can start with a focus on her food choices and exercise.


    The best way to change how your teen eats is to keep it simple. Start with five basic steps.

    1. Lose the soda. Swap those calorie-heavy drinks, including juices and sports drinks, for good old water or low-fat milk.
    2. Make vegetable and fruits easy snack choices. Keep them clean, cut, and waiting in the front of the fridge so they're easy to see and eat.
    3. Encourage breakfast every day. Teens will often give up their morning meal to sleep later, but that could mean they’re so hungry at lunch that they’ll overeat or give into junk-food cravings. So hand her something to eat on the way to school, like a smoothie made out of yogurt and fresh fruit, or an apple and a wedge of cheese.
    4. Don't keep junk food in the house. Although you have limited control of what your teen eats outside your walls, you can keep the bad stuff off the menu in your home.
    5. Eat at home. Restaurant foods have an average of 33% more calories than the same meal cooked at home, research shows. One study found that the more often a family ate together, the less likely a teen was to be overweight.


    Health experts recommend that teens get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. But if your child isn’t too active now, she’ll need to build up to that goal. Try these tactics to get her moving:

    • Help her set small, achievable goals. It’s fine to start with 10 minutes a day -- as long as she does it. Then have her slowly add a few minutes every day. When she succeeds with small steps, she’ll build her self-confidence and stay motivated.
    • Get the whole family involved. Take family hikes, or go on bike rides together. Keep jump ropes and hand weights around the home. Get pedometers for everyone to help you all take more steps. It’s easier for a teen to move more if everyone is doing it together.


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