Teens: Body Image and Weight Problems (cont.)

SCHWARTZ:
I address this issue in detail in my book Teen Weight Loss Solution. There are a lot of ways to help your daughter see herself, become aware of her eating habits, and provide her with the support needed without destroying her or hurting her feelings.

If you learn to listen to your daughter and let her tell you about herself, she will offer you openings where you can kindly address the eating issues. Let her bring it up. I am sure she's aware of it herself, but she is not sharing her concerns with you because she's afraid of your reaction. For more detail, read my book. It's full of specific examples of mothers and daughters in my practice and how they solved the same issues successfully.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My teen sons eat like horses. This is okay during football season when they are most active, but out of football season, it causes them to gain weight. What can we do to help them?

SCHWARTZ:
You can continue encouraging them to stay physically active while they're in off season. Keeping them at a high level of physical activity will keep them healthy and keep their weight under control.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My daughter always says she's fat, but she isn't. But my telling her that she isn't doesn't seem to make ay difference to her. Help!

SCHWARTZ:
Your daughter is exactly like every daughter that I have in my practice. In my book I go over many stories of the same situation, but although your daughter is typical of most teens her age, she is also unique. There is no other person in this world like your daughter.

So what you need to do is become an expert on your daughter. You can use the examples and the advice that works on others, but you need to find the specific answer that works for your daughter. Your daughter has to start feeling good about how she looks. Your daughter doesn't need you to tell her she's thin, she needs you to tell her she's great at everything else that she does. Your daughter needs to receive encouragement in all the positives in her life.

Eventually, she'll believe she's thin enough. Be patient and give her time and support.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Teens seem to be walking bags of hormones! How do teen hormones affect their weight?

SCHWARTZ:
You finally got to the core of the issue! Everything your teen does is somehow connected to their hormone balance.

At puberty, sex hormones, which have been sleeping since birth, wake up. When they wake up, everything changes. We notice how sex hormones affect the outside: boys become men; girls become women. We don't realize how dramatically sex hormones affect the inside. If the hormones are in balance, your teen could probably eat a lot of junk and never gain a pound. If the hormones are not in balance and the genetics are against them, they have to become savvy and careful with what they eat in the very beginning.

Balancing hormones is easy if you're aware of their existence and their impacts. Again, my book has more information on this subject.

The first step is for you, the mother, to become aware and understand. As you become more aware and get a better grasp at what's happening with the hormones and how the hormones are affecting weight, personality, way of thinking -- essentially everything -- you can start gently pointing out the connection.

The more you become a gentle teacher to guide the teen to better understand her own body, the less likely she is to develop problems during her teen years or the rest of her life. We address hormone problems at menopause, but we don't realize or address them in teens. If we learn how to address them in teens and teach our teens how to react and how to understand symptoms of hormone imbalance, they will have a whole lifetime of balance and they'll never be on the rollercoaster of dieting, or get steam-rollered by menopause.

It's critical for both the parent and teen to understand the role of hormones and to address issues of hormone imbalances from the very beginning.

MEMBER QUESTION:
So, can someone actually control their hormone levels through diet?

SCHWARTZ:
Absolutely. Or rather you can moderate, modify and help balance your hormones, and the outcome of this balance will be an improved sense of well-being and better weight balance.

If you eat junk, you're sending your hormones into a downward spiral, which translates into:

  • weight gain
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • sleep problems
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats -- you name it!

When you eat balanced proteins, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and good fats, in small, numerous healthy meals, your hormones thrive. They're in balance, and you can say goodbye to most of those pesky symptoms, and so can your teen. You are what you eat. Your hormones are what you eat.

MEMBER QUESTION:
My daughter's young, her cycles aren't regular, and she is freaking out about her fluctuating weight. Any ideas on what my daughter can do about weight fluctuations during monthly cycles?

SCHWARTZ:
Your daughter is lucky. You understand the connection between your daughter's weight changes and the changes in her hormone balance.

I work with natural/bio-identical progesterone that I give teens the week before their period to diminish the bloating and the mood swings. The results, in more than 500 teens, are remarkable.I also work with a few vitamins and supplements to help them balance their hormones and eliminate the drastic reactions to the hormone fluctuations.

You are correct when you say that periods are irregular for the first few years after they start. That's totally normal and you don't need to worry about your teen having irregular periods, you just need to worry about her feeling good. Eventually, as the cycles become ovulatory, the periods start to regulate themselves. Giving birth control pills to regulate the periods may not be the answer to your teen's problem. Birth control pills override your teen's hormonal system and may, in the long run, create long-lasting, negative effects.

Working with natural/bio-identical progesterone for short periods helps balance the teen's hormones, control the moods and weight, and has not been associated with any negative long-term effects. Birth control pills, while they will prevent pregnancy, do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases and will only give a false sense of security, take away the need for responsibility, which you don't want, you want your teen to become responsible.


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