The teenage years are turbulent – dating, school pressures, social circles that will make you dizzy, and hormones flying all around the place. Those teenage years can be even more stressful and filled with anxiety if you’re a teenager who is overweight or obese. The parents of these teens also might experience anxiety, fears for their daughter’s health and future, and frustration over their own parenting tactics that might have contributed to this situation.

If you’re wondering how you tell your teenage daughter she needs to lose weight, consider a few of these ideas before you dump all of your worries on her lap.

Words Do Matter When Talking to Teens About Weight

When it comes to discussing weight issues with your teen, the words you choose are very important. If you start off the conversation with, “Honey, your dad and I have been talking and we think you’re getting fat and we need to do something about that” you can almost guarantee the failure of the situation. No one wants to hear those words from anyone, and teenagers are sometimes much more sensitive to these issues. Instead of talking about her specific weight (which she most likely already knows is too high), you can have open and honest conversations about her activity levels, the foods she eats, and her overall health.

Exercise for Teenage Daughters

Teenagers need exercise, whether they are overweight or seem to have an enormously fast metabolism. If your daughter needs to lose weight, begin by talking with her about her activities. Chances are that if she has weight problems, she’s not getting enough physical exercise.

Explain to her that exercise is important (and make sure you lead by example). Just like you expect her to do homework because that will help her reach her future goals, exercising is needed for a healthy future. In our home it is just an expectation that everyone needs to move every day. For some kids that means organized sports, for others it means running or hiking, or some days swimming and yard work. Monitor your teen to make sure she is getting enough physical exercise – you can enforce the “Move Every Day” rule without ever telling her she is overweight. Even though teens might balk at being instructed to “go out and play”, the fact is that as a parent you can still do this. Just try to work with your teen to find activities that are enjoyable for her.

Nutrition for Teenage Daughters

Teens are hungry – they are growing – and I have the grocery bills to prove it. However, we need to be careful what we put in front of them, in our cupboards, and in our refrigerators. Added onto our own selections at home is the fact that many teens are leading more independent lives and have access to junk food 24/7 at the mall, friends’ homes, and vending machines.

If your teenage daughter is struggling with weight, be up front and clear about balanced nutrition. Don’t buy foods that will be tempting and thwart any weight loss efforts, but don’t expect her to only eat fruits and veggies, either. Find some foods that will satisfy her particular favorite tastes in healthy versions. Baked chips for movie night with girlfriends, dips for veggies, licorice and other low fat treats to satisfy her sweet tooth are all great options. Skip the processed foods as much as possible, and help make it easier for her by making sure there are easy foods ready to grab on the go. These are great rules of thumb for all families with busy teens. I buy plastic storage containers that have compartments in them and fill each section with a different veggie or fruit, then add a dip to the mix. Having these snacks ready and waiting helps kids make fast, healthy choices.

Healthcare for Teens

If your daughter needs to lose weight, she also needs to visit her doctor. Obesity is a leading risk factor for a variety of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and complications for asthma. The doctor’s office is also a great place to have an open conversation with your teen.