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My teenage daughter wants to go on a diet. I think she looks fine, but she reads those teen and beauty magazines and wants to look like all the movie stars. Help?!

If there is one message I'd like to get across to teens it's this: don't diet. Dieting is really the ultimate eating disorder because it denies us the ability to stay in touch with our feelings of satiety and hunger. Better to eat when you're hungry and recognize when you're full. Eat slowly; savor your food; and, feed your body well. In other words, nourish your body with foods and beverages that contribute to beauty, health and peak performance. Find physical activities that you enjoy, and think of exercise as play. If we eat well, and enjoy physical play everyday, a normal healthy weight will follow. But once we start restricting ourselves, and starving our bodies of the nutrients we need, we'll get sick, have low energy, and set the stage for eating disorders. The second message to teens is this: realize that the pictures we see in "women's" and "beauty" magazines are unrealistic images of women. The underlying message in all advertising is that we aren't good enough the way we are. So, we need product X,Y or Z to be happy--which of course is not true.

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., Former Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri-Columbia

University of Missouri Extension Site Administrator: 

Last updated:06/17/2015
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