[Skip to Content]
Connecticut Children's Medical Center

Connecticut Children's Medical Center

www.connecticutchildrens.org
(860) 545-9000


How Can I Lose Weight Safely?

Finding a Healthy Weight

Being healthy is really about being at a weight that is right for you. The best way to find out if you are at a healthy weight is to talk to a doctor or dietitian to help you set realistic goals. They can ask about your eating and exercise habits, look at growth charts, and see if you have any health problems.

If the doctor recommends weight loss, then you can follow these simple suggestions to get started:

Tips for Success

The best weight-loss strategies are those that you can keep for a lifetime. That's a long time, so we'll try to keep these suggestions as simple as possible!

Make it a family affair. Ask your mom or dad to lend help and support. The goal is to be healthy and make lifestyle changes that will benefit the whole family. Teens who have the support of their families tend to do better.

Watch your drinks. It's amazing how many calories are in the sodas, juices, coffee drinks, and other sugary beverages. Simply cutting out a bottle of soda or sports drink a day could save 150 calories or more. Drink water or other sugar-free drinks to quench your thirst. Choosing nonfat or low-fat milk is also a good idea.

Start small. Small changes are a lot easier to stick with than drastic ones. For example, give up regular soda or reduce the size of the portions you eat. When you have that down, you can make other changes, like eating vegetables with dinner or walking 10 minutes after school.

Stop eating when you're full. Pay attention as you eat and stop when you're comfortably full. Eating more slowly can help because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you are full. Sometimes taking a break before going for seconds can keep you from eating another serving.

Notice if you are hungry before reaching for a snack. If you eat when you feel upset or bored, try to find something else to do instead, like taking a walk around the block or checking in with a friend. Many people find it's helpful to keep a diary of what they eat and when and what they are feeling. When you have to write it down, you might think twice before eating cookies. Reviewing the diary later can also help identify the emotions that may trigger overeating.

Schedule regular meals and snacks. You can better manage your hunger when you have a predictable meal schedule. Skipping meals can lead to eating more throughout the day. Adding 1 or 2 healthy snacks to your 3 regular meals can help curb hunger.

Eat more fruit and vegetables. Ditch the junk food and dig out the fruits and veggies! Fruits and veggies can help you feel full and keep your heart and the rest of your body healthy. Include a fruit or vegetable with each meal.

Other suggestions for eating well:

  • choose whole-wheat bread and other whole grains, like brown rice and oatmeal
  • eat a healthy breakfast
  • keep portions under control

Avoid fad diets. Fad diets promise quick weight loss. They often involve giving up certain foods or ingredients or eating only particular foods. They don’t work in the long run and can be dangerous to your health.

Don’t use diet pills or weight loss supplements. Most of the claims these products make are not proven. They often contain hidden ingredients and may cause unwanted side effects, like bloating and diarrhea, or more serious health problems. If you are thinking of trying supplements for weight loss, talk to your doctor first.

Don't give up favorite foods. Don't tell yourself you'll never again eat your absolutely favorite peanut butter chocolate ice cream. Making all treats forbidden is sure to make you want them even more. The key to long-term success is making healthy choices most of the time.

Get moving. Don't get stuck thinking you have to play a team sport or take an aerobics class to get exercise. Try a variety of activities from hiking to cycling to dancing until you find ones you like. Everyone has to begin somewhere. It's fine to start out by simply taking a few turns around the block after school and building up your fitness gradually.

Find other ways to fit activity into your day. Walk to school, jog up and down the stairs a couple of times before your morning shower, help your parents in the garden, or dance like nobody is watching — anything that gets you moving. It all adds up to reach your goal of at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.

Build muscle. Adding strength training to your exercise routine can help you reach your weight loss goals as well as give you a toned bod. Try weights, kettlebells, resistance bands, pilates, or push-ups to get strong. A good, well-balanced fitness routine includes workouts, strength training, and flexibility exercises.

Forgive yourself. So, you were going to have one cracker with spray cheese on it and the next thing you know the can's pumping air and the box is empty! Drink some water, brush your teeth, and move on. Everyone who's ever tried to lose weight has found it challenging. When you slip up, the best idea is to get right back on track and don't look back.

Weight management is about long-term success. Start with small changes that you can stick with and gradually build better habits that can last.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: March 2022