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FIT Connection for Teens: Healthy Weight

How eating, exercise, mood, and sleep all affect weight.
By Brenda Conaway
WebMD Feature

teens eating saladMany factors contribute to a weight problem -- biology, habits learned before you can even remember, and how easy it is to buy huge portions of high-fat, high-sugar food. It may seem like the deck is stacked against anyone trying to fight obesity.

The often-quoted advice "Eat right and exercise" simply isn't the whole answer to this complex problem. That's why the FIT Platform includes four pillars -- FOOD, MOVE, MOOD, and RECHARGE. Learning how to live a life that includes a healthy focus on all four can help you win the weight battle.

Achieving a healthy weight and fitness is really about being healthy, says Chris Tiongson, MD, a pediatrician with Sanford Health. And that requires "a balance between mind, body, and spirit, and having everything be in sync," he says.

Using FOOD to Manage Weight

Of the four pillars in the FIT Platform, FOOD probably has the most direct effect on weight. If you eat too much of any kind of food, you'll gain weight. But it's harder to eat too much of foods that are "low density" -- meaning they are low in calories based on their portion size. Low-density foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and cooked whole grains like wild or brown rice and oatmeal. The goal is to use these foods as the base of your diet, so you have less room for those high-fat, high-calorie foods like baked goods, fried foods, and junk food.

How to MOVE to Manage Weight

It's hard to lose weight with exercise alone. But combining healthy, low-fat eating with moving your body makes it easier to create a calorie deficit. And that's what you need in order to lose weight. To lose weight, you need to either:

  1. Exercise to burn off the calories you eat that your body doesn’t need.
  2. Eat fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight.

Many people find splitting the difference between eating less and exercising more makes it much easier to achieve because they don't feel as deprived. Plus, the more you exercise, the more muscle you build, and muscle helps you burn calories even when you're not moving.

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