These days, the age of girls who are concerned about their weight is getting progressively younger. What was once a concern of the 18 and over crowd has now become a concern for the 16 and over crew. As parents, we have to understand that unnecessary dieting at a young age can do irreparable damage to a child’s metabolism and his or her physical development. And unfortunately, with teenage girls, it’s even more difficult because of the possible risk of developing a harmful eating disorder.

With that said, there is the other side of the coin that highlights the fact that there are teenage girls out there who might legitimately need to lose weight. What should be done for them? Would it be smart to put them on the Atkins Diet? Or, are there specific tips regarding weight loss for teenage girls available? Yes, and consult with your doctor before attempting any of the following.

The overwhelming majority of advice for teenage girls who want to lose weight tend to focus on what not to do:

• Don’t go on a fad diet, like the cabbage soup or grapefruit diet. Their body’s develop well into their 20s, and they need a full assortment of vitamins and minerals to keep their development on track.

• Don’t starve yourself, for much the same reason. However, no one at any age should resort to a starvation diet in order to lose weight. There are simply too many ways it can harm you. And besides, they are going to have to eat something eventually. Have you ever seen a car run out of gas?

• Don’t try to be as thin as your favorite stars. They’re grown women who don’t always make the right choices; they aren’t necessarily as healthy as they appear either, i.e. Nicole Ritchie. Also, they can afford to spend hours a day with personal trainers and nutritionist-a luxury that very few teenagers are able to enjoy.

• Don’t go vegetarian just to lose weight. It’s not as simple as not eating meat. When someone gives up meat, they have to replace the good things it gives you with a wide array of other foods. Many teenage girls see this as a viable option. Show them how fresh fish and chicken breast won’t make them fat, or help them to plan out a vegetarian diet that is healthy and makes sense.

As you probably already know, tell a rebellious teenager “no” won’t work forever. Be prepared. There are plenty of ways your teenage girl can lose weight effectively and safely, and she’s going to need your help and guidance to do it correctly. If you’re the parent of a girl who wants to lose weight, here’s how to help:

1. Make losing weight about being healthy, not about being thin. There is plenty of scientific evidence supporting this way of thinking, and it’ll help her feel like she’s doing the right thing herself.

2. Keep the comments and conversations about her weight to a minimum. Teenage girls have enough to obsess about without you joining in.

3. Lead by example. Make everyone in the family eat healthier. Don’t force her to eat a salad while the rest of the family is inhaling a large pepperoni pizza. There are plenty of delicious, healthy foods available that your whole family will love.

4. Stay positive when shopping for clothes. Celebrate a smaller size, and suggest fun things in her size instead of focusing on styles she’s not able to wear.

5. Be vigilant, but be quiet about it. If you’re too overbearing, she’s going to resort to drastic weight loss measures. If you see that your daughter is losing weight at an unhealthy rate, check for laxatives, and monitor her bathroom use after meals. Talk to her.

Come on!

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