With 2012 only hours away, many are scrambling to assemble their resolutions and for millions of us, teens and adults alike, this list includes renewed efforts to improve diet and exercise more. While obesity is a growing international problem, we all know that weight watching can lead to serious health problems, both mental and physical.
Following are a few warning signs that a diet may be misguided or inappropriate:
- The desire to lose weight seems more motivated by emotional than health factors. “I’m not popular because I’m fat.” Or “If only I could get rid of my stomach I’d be happy.”
- A person signs on to a drastic change in lifestyle. " I’ve decided to become a vegan in 2012.” Not only is a vegan diet (void of all animal products, including cheese and eggs) very difficult to do in a healthy manner, it is usually high in calories and hard to maintain.
- You are quite sure that your daughter is at a normal weight and do not think dieting is necessary or safe. If any degree of struggle or disagreement arises between you over this issue, it is best to turn to a professional who can assess the teen’s weight and health status and explore the psychological and emotional motivating factors in order to provide guidance.
- You see evidence that your teen, young adult or friend is using caffeine, laxatives, diet pills or is even vomiting to control intake and weight. These are obvious signs of an eating disorder, which can quickly become a chronic and recalcitrant disease. Intervene as soon as possible.
- You see a marked increase in concern over fat content of food, accompanied by scrutiny of food labels, avoidance of previously favorite foods, and “fear of fat.”
- You note an uncharacteristic and perhaps unsustainable level of physical exercise that accompanies someone's new resolution. In an era when most Americans are not getting enough exercise and spending too much time in front of various screens, there are still many who use excessive exercise as a tool for weight loss and body changes that may not be appropriate.
With respect to this resolution, there is no more apt wish than to "Have a Happy and Healthy New Year."
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