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Teen Weight Loss – The Healthy Way


I often see teens wanting to lose weight and look their best. I have been referred many local teens from physicians here in Alamo, CA. I have a particular empathy with them since I too was overweight as a teen because of my own personal problems, which was a major cause for me to major in nutrition in college and develop my own approach that allowed me to lose weight and keep it off.

Let me tell you about my teen client, Debbie from Alamo, Ca who attends a local high school and is in leadership and plays soccer.  Debbie is certainly quite active but because of her busy schedule ends up eating most of her food at the end of the day.  Her diet during the day could best be characterized as low fiber, low protein and high sugar.  Breakfast consisted of Honey Nut Cheerios where the rest of the day she consumed smoothies, Think Thin, Cliff Bars and yogurt.  For dinner, with her family, she ate double servings of meat and starches and skipped the veggies because they did not taste good to her. At night, she constantly snacked with bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios thinking they were a healthy choice.  I calculated her night time snacks alone consumed over 1000 calories.

In my initial session with Debbie from Alamo, CA, I evaluated a food diary and showed her where her meals were lacking protein and fiber. I taught her how to read food labels for serving size as well as percentage of calories from fat, grams of protein, fiber and sugar. I always tell my clients that the food label is really backwards – we don’t use the metric system nor go by grams and protein is listed as the last item where it should be first along with dietary fiber.  After telling Debbie that 1 oz. of protein is equal to 7 grams she could see her Honey Nut Cheerios has a skimpy 2 grams of protein compared to the king of cereals, Kashi Go Lean that has 13 grams of protein or about 2 oz. of protein. When you add a cup of milk you get an additional ounce of protein and thus a breakfast can have 3 oz. of protein.  I adamantly made the point that Debbie must consume at least 8 ounces of protein and 15 grams of fiber until dinner to function well during the day and not be starved for dinner.  After looking at a list of her favorite foods we put together a meal plan.  For breakfast Debbie agreed to have Oatmeal or Kashi Go Lean with some fruit after trying a sample at my office. Debbie liked the idea of taking to school a mid-AM snack of an apple with peanut butter or beef jerky or a small pack of almonds.  Debbie tried Trader Joe’s fresh grilled chicken strips cut up with a cup of mixed beans and salsa or a leftover chicken breast with veggies and brown rice which she enjoyed. Now, as a routine, she takes the second serving that she used to have for dinner and saves it for lunch the next day and adds tasty veggies that she likes.

When she comes home from school before soccer practice she now likes to have a hearty soup such as lentil or black bean or even oatmeal. Debbie has traded in all her smoothies from Jamba Juice in Walnut Creek Ca, for fresh fruit, is drinking more water than ever, has eliminated bars and is substituting low sugar Greek yogurt for high sugar Yoplait.  She now tells me she goes to practice at 5PM feeling better than ever with high energy. She no longer comes home famished and can control her portions at night and best, does not feel the need to snack endlessly at night. Now she is happy with a fat free fudgicle or creamsicle or even some sorbet.

Debbie and I have worked together for several follow-up phone and email sessions where we discuss strategies for the parties, social events and restaurant eating with friends and family.  The number one lesson for Debbie is not to go to a party hungry and avoid filling up on unhealthy junk food that is usually available at teen gatherings. When at a buffet, which her family and friends enjoy, I taught Debbie to first scan the choices and set up a plan instantly in her mind and then keep to it. It is fine if she makes room for dessert as long as she eats less starch and fat.

In addition, Debbie and I previewed menus of restaurant websites that she enjoys here in Alamo, CA , Danville, CA and Walnut Creek, CA. Debbie said to me that most often she did not even open a menu and would order exactly what we had discussed on the phone. She also indicated that now she’s very confident at these eating spots compared to how overwhelmed she had felt in the past.

I am glad to inform you that Debbie has lost 10 pounds in one month and we are still working together via phone and e-mail. Her goal is to lose 10 more pounds before the holidays.

The good news is that Debbie’s visits were covered by Sutter Select insurance with small copay. Please feel free to call me at (925) 855-0150 or e-mail me at and tell me about your nutritional concerns. Visit my Homepage and read past articles, recipes and nutrition tips in my blog section.