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Think Your Way to Healthy Eating

A teen learns how to change her thinking about eating well and loses weight.
By Susan Bernstein
WebMD Feature

girl meditatingA serious figure skater since she was 5, Julie Lenhard of Atlanta worked up an appetite each day at the ice rink. When she was 15, she stopped skating regularly, but she kept eating the same amount of food. She was eating more calories than her body needed to grow and for energy. Soon, Julie started gaining extra weight.

Julie wanted to get to a healthier weight but says she knew she had to be careful. She didn't want to fall for a fad diet. Instead, she changed her mind-set, and Julie's hard work has paid off. "Now I am the weight I want to be," she says.

FIT talked to Julie to get the scoop on the steps she took to achieve healthy weight loss success. Plus, we asked expert nutritionist Jenny Favret, RD, MS, LDN, for her feedback. She works with teens on their eating and weight goals as part of the Duke Healthy Lifestyles Program in Durham, N.C. Favret gave us her tips for getting to a healthy weight the smart way.

Julie's 6 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

  1. Check with a doctor
  2. Set a goal, make a plan
  3. Bring awareness to eating
  4. Think of food as your body's fuel, watch your portions
  5. Don't skip meals -- snack smart
  6. Be kind to yourself

Step 1: Check With a Doctor

Julie went to the doctor to talk about her weight worries.

Favret says: That's a great idea! It should be the first step you take.

"Doctors are able to plot your body mass index on a graph and look at your weight gain pattern to determine if it is an issue or if you have any other medical conditions associated with being obese or overweight," she says.

Your body mass index, or BMI, is a way to estimate your body fat. To get this estimate, your health provider will measure your height and weight.

"Assuming you're a younger teen who is continuing to grow taller, it might be recommended that you just stop gaining weight as you continue to grow taller so the weight will normalize," Favret says. "It's really just so individualized."

Your doctor also may refer you to a registered dietician to take a closer look at your nutrition and eating habits and help you get to a healthy weight.

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