My teen daugh­ter is pil­ing on weight

Franklin County News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

Q: My 14-year-old daugh­ter is pil­ing on weight. She was never an over­weight kid but in the past year has gone from less than 50kg to (I would es­ti­mate) well over 60 which is a lot for small-boned girl who’s just 160cm tall.

There’s no mys­tery as to what’s caus­ing the weight gain. She hoovers up any food in the fridge and has given up all sports and now takes the bus in­stead of bik­ing to school. Her favourite place to be is on the couch with her iPad and I’m al­ways find­ing cho­co­late bar wrap­pers in her school bag and even un­der her bed.

If I ask her what’s go­ing on she gets fu­ri­ous and ac­cuses me of pres­sur­ing her to be skinny. I don’t want her to be skinny, just her nor­mal healthy size. I can see she is mis­er­able this way, she’s be­com­ing less so­cial and I’m very wor­ried. A: You say there’s no mys­tery as to what’s caus­ing your daugh­ter’s weight gain and you’ve put it down to the cho­co­late bars, the way she ‘‘hoovers’’ food and her lack of ex­er­cise. But even by us­ing a word such as ‘‘hoovers’’ you’ve made a judg­ment or a de­ci­sion when there may be other fac­tors at play.

If there’s a marked in­crease or de­crease in a per­son’s weight, it’s best to check first that there’s no un­der­ly­ing health is­sue. Your daugh­ter is 14 and a lot of hor­monal ac­tiv­ity is go­ing on at that age. Your GP will be able to ad­vise if your daugh­ter’s BMI is in a healthy range for her age, and may also suggest you seek some guid­ance from a di­eti­tian.

If there’s no phys­i­cal is­sue, then the next thing to con­sider is her emo­tional well­be­ing. If this is emo­tional eat­ing, then some­thing will be trig­ger­ing her un­hap­pi­ness. To find out what’s go­ing on, your daugh­ter needs to see and be­lieve that your love is there, un­con­di­tion­ally – no mat­ter what she eats or what she looks like. Any talk of get­ting ‘‘up off the couch’’ or ‘‘lay­ing off the cho­co­late’’ will just re­in­force the mes­sages that she’s prob­a­bly al­ready get­ting from others at school.

Home should be your daugh­ter’s safest place and gain­ing her trust is para­mount to help­ing her. By lis­ten­ing to her care­fully you will bol­ster her selfes­teem.You say this sit­u­a­tion has evolved over the year so don’t be im­pa­tient for it to re­solve quickly.

Now for some prac­ti­cal ad­vice…You can set up a healthy en­vi­ron­ment at home with plenty of suit­able snacks, (foods such as nuts, fruit and chopped veges with hum­mus) and do some ac­tiv­i­ties that in­volve walk­ing and mov­ing but avoid com­ments about it be­ing ‘‘good for her’’. Pre­par­ing food to­gether can be com­pan­ion­able and is of­ten a nice time to chat.

But most of all, love this girl.

Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and writ­ten two nov­els for young adults in­clud­ing

As one of seven sis­ters, there aren’t many par­ent­ing prob­lems she hasn’t talked over. To send her a ques­tion email life.style@fair­fax­me­dia. co.nz with Dear Mary-anne in the sub­ject line.

Love your daugh­ter. Don’t judge her for what she eats, ad­vises Mary-anne.

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