By Bev Grey

If you are overweight or obese, don’t be afraid to ask your parents for help. I know that you may think they are too busy, don’t think it is a problem or will just tell you to “eat less and get up and move instead of sitting around all the time.” It isn’t quite that simple.
 
Please let your parents know how you feel. They love you and want what is best for you. They want you to be happy. They may not have any idea how your weight is affecting your life. I’m sure if you are open and honest with them, they will want to help you.
 
Do not—I repeat, do not—put yourself on a diet. A restrictive diet is not the answer, because even if you lose a lot of weight, you will probably gain it back—plus some—when the diet is over. If you want to lose weight to have more confidence, attract a boyfriend/girlfriend or get the other kids to stop teasing and bullying you, you must change your lifestyle. That may mean doing some things you don’t do today.
 
Good nutrition is the first key to healthy weight loss. If you don’t like vegetables, eat them anyway. As you become used to them, you will learn to like most of them. (I promise!) Fruits and vegetables not only contain vitamins and minerals to make you look and feel better, but they contain fiber, which will make you feel fuller. Just take a few bites of everything, and go easy on the white bread and anything made with sugar. I know you love pizza, but it is high in calories, so order it with thin crust, veggies and no extra cheese. Limit your pizza to once or twice a week, and eat a salad first.
 
Skip the sodas and drink water or low-fat milk instead. You really need the calcium in milk and dairy products, so try for three servings a day of low-fat milk, cottage cheese, cheese or yogurt. Just one regular-size soda a day can make you gain 10 pounds in a year. I don’t even want to think about how many pounds the extra-large sodas might cause you to gain!
 
Skip the French fries, and have a salad instead. French fries really shouldn’t count as a vegetable since they are almost all starch. Have a baked potato instead, and go easy on the butter and sour cream.
 
Turn off the TV and computer, and go to bed earlier! Studies have proved there is a direct connection between obesity and not getting enough sleep. As a preteen or teenager, you need 9 or more hours of sleep each night.
 
Do something each day for exercise. Get a pedometer so you can record the number of steps you take each day, and try to reach 10,000 a day. Offer to run errands for your parents, run the vacuum, walk the dog or whatever chores will involve movement. Ride your bike, work out to an exercise video, or join the YMCA or Boys & Girls Club so you can swim, shoot hoops or work out on the exercise equipment.
 
Ask your mom or dad for a few minutes of their time to have a private talk with you, and then share your feelings and goals concerning your weight. Ask for their help. If they are overweight also, ask if the whole family can lose weight and get healthier together. Your talk may be all they need to get started. Do it today!
 
Bev Grey is founder of Grandma’s Healthy Kids Club, a program to help children and adults improve their eating and exercise habits through age-appropriate membership packages based on the USDA Food Pyramids. She is also author of “The Project,” a fictional story for children and educators or medical professionals who work with children.

More by Bev Grey: No Willpower to Lose Weight? Try Won’t-Power!