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What Are the Effects of Puberty on a Girl's Weight?

Learn about how girls can gain weight during puberty and the danger of developing an eating disorder from Jennifer Wider, M.D. in this Howcast video.


So you're going through puberty, and you notice that your body is changing quite a bit. You might have packed on some pounds, you might be a little curvier, your breast might be developing, and all of these changes may make you feel confused and wonder what's going on. Puberty brings on a lot of changes and some of those are weight gain, and a lot of girls get really, really upset over this, but it's normal, and it's part of becoming a woman. What you need to remember is, when you look at magazines and watch television shows, the media is dictating to us what women should look like, and unfortunately, today skinny equals being attractive, equals being more successful, and means being more popular, and that is not necessarily a depiction of what girls look like in our country. We come in all different shapes and sizes, and it's okay to be exactly who you are.

Girls are very vulnerable during puberty, and one thing that can happen is they can develop an eating disorder. Eating disorders can plague girls at all different ages, but in puberty you're feeling a little vulnerable, you're feeling a little bit unsure how you look, and unfortunately you may develop some sort of disordered eating pattern.

One eating disorder that I want to discuss called anorexia, you probably heard of it, it means literally starving yourself, starving your body of that calories that it needs. Bulimia is another type of eating disorder, which is when girls binge, or eat a lot, and then they purge their body somehow of these calories. They either vomit, or they take laxatives to get rid of all the calories. And another eating disorder that people don't talk about is called excessive exercising, and that's when girl will go out and like a hurricane exercise 24/7 in the hopes of losing weight.

All of these eating disorders are dangerous, and they're not a safe way to lose weight. In addition, if you are concerned about your weight, going on a fad diet is what not to do. Fad diets like Atkins, HCG, bee pollen, grapefruit diet, South Beach, I've heard about all of them, and let me tell you something, they don't really work. While in the short term they may work for you, in the long term if you don't sustain them, you're going to gain back the weight, and that you're going to put the pounds right back on. It is much healthier to make lifestyle changes, like exercising regularly, like watching what you eat, and making sure that you're eating enough to maintain a healthy weight.

If you know someone, or if this is you, this fad dieting, you have anorexia, bulimia, or is exercising 24/7; look for the red flag, look for these warning signs. They may be thin, they may be super thin, they may be wearing baggy clothes, they may be skipping meals, they may be pale, they may feel weak and dizzy, and they may be excusing themselves to go to the bathroom during class and vomiting. If you're doing this behavior or notice it in a friend, make sure to let them know that you are concerned, or if this is you, go get help.

Recognizing a problem is the first step for recovery, there's a lot of help out there. A lot of women have battled eating disorders, they've done fad diets, they've lost weight unhealthily, and you too can recover from this, and develop normal eating patterns. You are a normal individual, you are beautiful just the way you are, and your body shape is going to develop normally, and healthfully, and beautifully.

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