What’s the Skinny On Dieting and Teen’s Bones?


I want to call our attention to something that is not surprising but perhaps may allow us to present a wake-up call to our daughters and those we mentor. I’m wary of posting this on girlsminister.com because I do not want to see this article create panic and then cause girls ministries to hold retreats that make girls take the Presidential fitness test or something crazy like that.  I am putting this in the toolbox though to help you have your eyes open to the individual conversations that allow you to speak into a girls heart that may be struggling with dieting.

This is a conversation we should have with girls who have let us know they are trying to lose weight for this new year.  With all the ads, marketing, and poor modeling they have seen from the women in their lives…I don’t think many girls know what healthy living even looks like.  I do not use the word dieting—because it comes with a lot of baggage.  Our daughters and the girls we mentor need to know a quick fad diet may give them immediate results but they are actually harming themselves for their future.  I recently read an article from Los Angeles Times and from The UK press that stated:

Professor Jon Tobias, leader of the research, says: “There is a good deal of pressure on teenage girls to be thin, but they need to be aware that this could endanger their developing skeleton and put them at increased risk of osteoporosis.

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“Puberty is an important time of bone growth… thickness of the bone is still continuing to develop,” Tobias said. It’s also the time when girls start dieting to control weight and cease to engage in rigorous physical activity, Tobias said — a dangerous combination.

With all of the pressure to be a size 1 or 0, I’m afraid girls do not realize that they may be doing great damage to their bodies just so they can fit within a size.  There’s loads of articles that support this, but this one just caught my attention today.  So what do we do to help girls know how to eat and excercise healthy?   A teen girl needs to eat differently than an adult because they are still growing.  We need to help girls understand that while the mirror tells them one story, the nutrition they are putting into their bodies or not putting into their bodies may be telling a different story in their bones and muscles.  If they start uttering the words—diet, ask them if they are doing any excercise.  If they say no, ask them if you can help them figure out some healthy ways to living that help them to move away from dieting.  Let’s learn healthy living and take dieting out of our vocabulary. Besides anything that has the word “die” in it isn’t a place we want to focus right?  Let’s focus on little changes that we can do for a lifetime…and not a fad diet that we do for a weekend.   Help the girls that are in your life that may be living dangerously in these areas not to eliminate food, but to evaluate the types of food they are putting into their body and the amount of movement their bodies are getting each week.  and remember—pray that these conversations will lead you to the root of the issue that is prompting these body image problems. Remember to be cautious about what words are coming out of your own mouth regarding your body.  They could be taking their cues from you.  If it is a struggle for some of the girls you are with, commit to pray about it together. With this said—I am not a health expert nor a nutritionist. If there are girls that are struggling addicts with food and excercise, you need to make sure they are finding help.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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