I was an overweight teenager. Not by much mind you. At my fattest, I weighed about 165 pounds. Given I'm now sixty nine inches in height, this would not have been considered obese by any means. But as a teenage girl growing up in the late 1970's, it was a problem for me.
In those days, there were not as many overweight teens as today. I was quite self-conscious about being somewhat overweight. But I did it to myself with emotional over-eating. The problem persisted, off on and on for about two or three years.
My parents were recent immigrants. They didn't have much money to spare. In one sense this was fortunate for me. We hardly ever had any kind of packaged or processed foods in the house. Although my parents didn't have much money, we probably ate better than most households. We didn't go out to eat at fast food restaurants. My mother didn't buy any food that came in a box. There was hardly any processed food ever. It was basically meat and potatoes, some vegetables, quite frequent home-made baked goods, and (also for snacks) lots of bread and butter. Bread was the key staple. Typical central European food fare.
I remember that there was always milk in the fridge. But I don't recall having juice except on special occasions. And Coke or any other pop drink was completely unheard of in our home. Knowing what I do now, in my personal research about nutrition, I know we ate far too few beans and legumes, greens, fish, raw nuts and good breakfast items such as oatmeal. We usually had a vegetable at dinner, but the variety and choice of vegetables could have been much better. And I now know that we overdid it on the milk, butter, cheese and bread.
But it would be difficult to become obese based on the food available in our home back then. So I never did. But due to emotional hang-ups (in hindsight, due mostly to the tensions in the home due to my father's mental illness) I did manage to eat myself into weighing at least twenty pounds more than ideal.
I remember putting myself on a self-devised diet when I was in grade 10. I lost all the excess weight quite quickly eating dried cottage cheese and some other stuff that I don't remember. Everyone noticed, even my handsome P.E. teacher wanted to know the secret of my weight loss at that time ;-). But I gradually put most of the weight back on.
Once I left home at 18 to go to university, my life changed and I didn't have time to think about food. Throughout my twenties and up to my mid thirties I was very active physically. I played lots of tennis and walked and jogged frequently. Given that I had grown up on unprocessed foods, I continued to eat relatively healthy foods and never needed to diet. My weight problems were over until just recently (see the post about my post-pregnancy weight loss battle).
If you are a teenager reading this, I would love to give you advice but I am not a qualified nutritionist. One thing I can say with certainty is that it is really helpful to learn about truly nutritious foods. There is so much misinformation out there about what really healthy foods are.
You really don't need to go hungry to lose weight. If you can focus on eating lots of the healthiest foods and beginning some kind of walking (or other regular exercise) program, you will be truly set on the path to weight loss and to reaching your ideal weight. I'd recommend reading all about the healthiest foods at WHFoods.com. This is a non-profit website and the best source of nutritional information I've come across.