Your Teen's Hidden Addiction Is Your Fault

teen girls iceeI know what you're thinking, but it's not any of those things. I'm not talking about Adderall or bath salts or cutting. I'm not talking about smoking or any of the other dangerous substances/behaviors that you already lie awake at night worrying your daughter might do.

No, the addiction that's really hurting our teen girls is one you've probably allowed for years, something you've willingly paid for and maybe even encouraged.

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Turns out your teen's junk food habit is what's truly compromising her health -- now, and possibly for the rest of her life! And, believe it or not, most teen boys have better eating habits than girls. As a mom, that revelation surprised me the most: Guys are the ones who have the rep for being "human garbage disposals," not their body-conscious counterparts.

But it's actually the desire to be thin that traps our girls in the cycle of too little nutritious food/too much processed crap. In a mission to eat less overall, girls often skip or skimp on actual meals ("I'll eat dinner later, Mom, I have homework." "Sorry, no time for breakfast!"), then end up getting so hungry later that they turn to chips or fries or candy or some other quick, high fat/carb/sugar fix. It's the equivalent of nutritionally shooting one's self in the foot.

The worst part is that the longer a girl is on the junk food roller coaster ride (she's way up! Ugh, now she's way down. She's way up again ...!), the harder it is to get off -- and the consequences go beyond obesity. By depriving herself of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, and folate during her formative years, a girl sets herself up for a plethora of problems later on in life, from anemia to osteoporosis to infertility.

So how do we stop this from happening? Well, I hate to say it, but the answer is without a doubt to set a good example with our own eating habits. Easier said than done, I know, but very simple, when you get down to it.

Do you try to set a good example for your teen by eating healthy?


Image via D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr

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