When it comes to food choices and weight, few of us are comfortable talking. With teenage girls, the challenge grows larger—how do you create engaging, productive conversations without causing a fight?
We're all familiar with the saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." And this is precisely what Michelle Obama advocated for in her response to the surgeon general's report citing childhood obesity rates as a public health crisis in the United States. As a healthcare provider to teen girls, I couldn't agree more. The United States needs a real shake-up when it comes to preventing obesity in kids, and more power to the first lady for taking this on as her cause.
Many of my teen patients are obese and completely oblivious to it. I am not talking about a curvaceous and active young beauty who enjoys food as much as an active lifestyle. Those girls have the right formula. The teens I'm referring to are the ones who only drink soda, are almost completely unfamiliar with vegetables and think of walking to the kitchen as exercise. And when I meet their parents, who are often twice as obese and show up late because they were looking for the closest possible parking place, it becomes clear to me why my words of wisdom regarding healthy living sound like Martian to the teens!
As the CEOs of households, mothers are in a great position to set good examples about diet and exercise while also allowing their teens choices about what and how they eat. It might be tempting for mothers to make all the decisions about what groceries to buy, but this won't help girls learn to make sound choices on their own. Teens need opportunities to make their own decisions with guidance from mothers who are better informed about what's in their kids' best interest.