TeenHealthFX is sorry to hear that you are feeling so down and depressed about your weight. It sounds like you are feeling like somewhat of an outsider during your lunch period and at home when it comes to food – and FX can appreciate that it’s not a great way to feel. Since it sounds like you would like to make some positive changes about your situation, FX suggests the following:
- As for your lunch period, speak with your guidance counselor and/or school social worker and explain how difficult it has been for you to be sitting with the 9th graders when you eat. Check with them to see if a schedule change is at all possible so that you can eat lunch with other 8th graders. And, if not, ask them if you could be a helper for a staff member that period and eat your lunch while assisting a teacher or counselor in the building.
- Talk to your family about how you are feeling about your weight. Make sure that they are aware of how difficult you are finding it to make healthy eating choices with the foods currently in your house, and that you are feeling somewhat like an outsider with them when it comes to weight and eating habits. It is important that your family is aware of your needs and how you are feeling so that they can make changes at home when it comes to food in the house and meal-planning which are sensitive to where you are at.
- Have your parents schedule a meeting for you with your primary care physician as well as with a nutritionist. It is important that rather than focusing on a diet, you work with some professionals on making lasting lifestyle changes that will positively impact your weight and overall health.
- If you are finding that you “have to have” food and feel you have little self-control over what you are eating, consider meeting with a mental health professional. Sometimes people are strongly drawn to food because they are dealing with underlying emotional issues, such as depression, stress, low self-esteem or feelings of isolation and loneliness. Food becomes a quick fix to help the person cope with these negative emotions – but as long as the root of the problem is not addressed, it is hard to simply stop the over-eating.
- People who are more easily able to maintain a healthy weight are generally more active and tend to keep themselves busy during their free time. Think about what you tend to do with your free time when you are not in school. Are you sitting and playing videogames, watching lots of tv, or engaging in other activities where you are not moving around very much? If so, brainstorm (on your own or with family and friends) about ways in which you could spend more of your free time on the move.
- Since it seems like there are some areas where you are feeling like an outsider, and FX is assuming that is probably not helping your overall sense of self, think about things you can do and people you can be around where you would feel more like one of the gang. Whether you take art classes, join a band, play sports through your school or town, do some volunteer work, or join some clubs at school, it is important for your self-esteem that you find activities to participate in and people to be around where you feel a sense of productivity, accomplishment, common ground, and shared interests.
If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-6475 for an appointment or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact Girl’s Street – A Young Woman’s Health Program – at 908.522.2555 if you live in northern New Jersey.
If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 973-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers.