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On the Chubby Side

RACHEL, age: 15
I have always been on the chubby side and it really bothers me. Now that I’m in high school, I am determined to do something about my weight. If I lose weight, I know I’ll be happier.

TOM, dad
One of my daughter’s friends called and expressed some concerns about Rachel. The friend told me that Rachel has been taking diet pills. I know that Rachel would like to loose a few pounds. I haven’t seen her take any pills and I’m confused about how to handle this subject with Rachel.

Rachel, I admire you for wanting to improve your appearance. Keep in mind that losing weight isn’t just about looking better. It’s about health and nutrition. First, find out what would be a healthy weight for you based on your age, height and physical build. Perhaps you could ask your doctor at your next check-up. An appropriate balance of exercise and eating a well-balanced lower calorie diet best achieves weight loss. There really aren’t any short cuts to losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It would be smart to do some research so you can look good and feel good while achieving your weight goal.

Tom, It’s important that you communicate with your daughter and help her with her weight loss plan. This can be a sensitive subject. Let your daughter know that you think she already is beautiful just the way she is. You should also be mindful and reflect her feelings on wanting to improve her appearance. If your daughter is truly overweight for her height and frame, get educated together about the best ways to lose weight. Taking her in for a medical check- up or meeting with a nutritionist may prove to be a good start.

Be aware of any changes in Rachael’s behavior that could be caused by using diet pills. Let Rachel know the side effects and dangers of using diet pills or other substances to lose weight. When you bring up the topic, explore, and even directly ask, if she’s ever used them.

If Rachel isn’t at all overweight but she perceives that she is, you may need to take a different approach. If her motivation for wanting to lose weight is emotionally based instead of realty-based, you may want to do your homework about eating disorders. This way, you can be aware of the warning signs and know if and when to seek professional help. Regardless, keep communicating with Rachel. Be accepting, loving and supportive of your continually evolving teen.

Louise Hajjar Diamond has been a guidance counselor for twelve years. She is also a freelance writer and mother of two.

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