Reviewed by Renee Alli on February 09, 2012

Sources

David Ludwig, MD Director, Children's Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Children’s Hospital Boston

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Video Transcript

Narrator: Four Ways to CHange Your Teens's Eating Habits

Claire: Yeah, if you put water in that pot, we'll get going.

Becca: How much over the carrots?

Claire: About an inch over the carrots.

Becca: OK

Claire: OK, good job.

David Ludwig, MD: The key to parenting at any age, but especially in adolescence is to shift from these coercive behavioral change strategies, to more constructive strategies. Modeling, which is most powerful in childhood, also still applies to some degree in adolescence.

Narrator: Tip One: Model Healthy Eating

Claire: I know most people don't like Brussels sprouts, but we love Brussels sprouts.

Becca: Especially the way mom and dad do it.

David Ludwig, MD: We can show our children what it's like to not just uh eat and appreciate good food, but how to pay attention to when we are full and then stop eating.

Narrator: Tip Two: Protect the Health of the Home

David Ludwig, MD: Another key practice is what we call protecting the home environment.

Claire: We've made some changes as to what we keep in our freezer as well. At one point, this was totally full of ice cream.

Becca: Mostly chocolate ice cream.

Claire: So our freezer has changed a lot.

David Ludwig, MD: And that simply put, if it doesn't support health, don't bring it in the home. That doesn't mean that you can't have sweets and treats once in a while, go out for an ice cream and make it a celebration. But you can say no to your child once when she's asking for that gallon of ice cream in the super market, or you can try to say no every night if she's um begging you for it when it's sitting in the freezer. So we can absolutely take control of the home, even in adolescence, and it's the parent's responsibility to say what can and what can't come in the home.

Narrator: Tip Three: Use Approproate Rewards

David Ludwig, MD: And then a variety of other constructive behavior change practices, such as uh rewards, small, non-monetary rewards, for accomplishing, accomplishing goals along the way to a long term um goal. So, a teenager, for example who goes a month without fast food might get um a CD, or taken to a movie, or some special time with a parent.

Narrator: Tip Four: Monitor Behavior

David Ludwig, MD: In addition to rewards, monitoring can be a very powerful behavioral change method, working with your teenager to keep track, in a non-judgmental way about the child's behaviors.

Claire: So where did you guys go? You guys went to the movies.

David Ludwig, MD: Just paying attention to behavior can oftentimes raise consciousness and self awareness, leading to natural lifestyle changes. It's remarkable um how often we can eat an unhealthy food or engage in an unhealthy lifestyle practice, and not be aware of it. So non-judgmentally bringing attention, such as by just noting on a calendar how many times you're having fast food, or, or spending days without activity. Or conversely, how many times we are getting active, having fruits and vegetables, or accomplishing other goals can promote healthy lifestyle change.