I eat to cheer myself up but it just makes things worse!

been bullied about my weight. It really hurts because I’ve tried so hard to lose weight. The worst thing is that when people say nasty things about me it makes me want to hide in my room and eat even more to make myself feel better. My mum is overweight too and so doesn’t see it as a problem. I’ve tried asking her to cook healthy meals but it’s not her thing. Everything she cooks is either deep fried or served with chips. She also fills the cupboards with cakes, sweets, chocolate and crisps. I know that if she supported me just a little bit more I’d have a better chance at beating this. I don’t know how to convince my mum that there is a problem. In my dreams I am a size zero but I know that will never happen.


The media encourages us all to admire body shapes like size zero, which is both unhelpful and unrealistic. What you need to do is be very honest with your mum. Tell her that you’re unhappy about your weight and also that you’re being bullied about it. It would help this situation if you or your mum spoke to your school to get their support on bullying and how to stamp it out. Next, I suggest you go to your GP together so you can get some advice on how to change your diet. The doctor will measure your Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a score that can let you know if you do have a weight problem and if so how serious it is. Your doctor will also be able to talk to your mum about the impact that the wrong kind of food can have on health, and give you some diet sheets and practical strategies to help you lose weight safely and effectively. If your mum sees that there is a real issue here, then she’s less likely to fill the cupboards with junk food and help you to start eating and feeling more healthy. Hope it helps!

Question – What’s the big deal about GCSEs?

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Mum is always telling me I have to work hard at school but I find a lot of my lessons boring. I’d rather be hanging out with my friends than learning about stuff that happened a zillion years ago. Mum says if I don’t pay attention in class I won’t pass my GCSEs but I don’t really care. What’s so important about them anyway?


School can seem a bit tiresome and irrelevant in your teenage years, particularly when you feel there’s a world out there waiting to be explored. But there is a very good reason to pay attention and take it seriously. The subjects taught in schools are designed to give you the knowledge and qualifi cations you’re going to need to get the sort of jobs you’ll want in the future. Almost ALL modern careers require GCSEs! The time for a job will come quicker than you can imagine, and if you’ve put in the hard work at school you will give yourself more options for what to do when you leave. It’s true that you can go back and re-sit exams later, but it’s likely you’ll be out of step with your friends who are all moving on to college. My advice to you on this would be: just get your head down and get your exams!

Question – Recently I have no confidence in myself. What can I do?

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At my old school I felt good about who I was. My family made me feel great and I didn’t give a thought to how I looked – I was happy with myself. Since I joined my new school a group of girls has been calling me names and making jokes about my body. It happens every day and it’s beginning to make me feel small. It’s started to affect my schoolwork and even my confidence in sports. I know I shouldn’t let their opinions get to me but they do. I can’t help it. I feel like there must be some truth in it or why would they say these horrible things?


This type of verbal bullying should be tackled straight away, since it’s having such a detrimental effect on your confi dence and self- esteem. Report the girls’ behaviour to a teacher at school and let him or her know what is going on; no one deserves this kind of daily abuse. Then every morning when you wake up, look in the mirror and focus on the things you like about yourself; they can be physical attributes or aspects of your character. This daily affi rmation of your good qualities will have the opposite effect to these bullies’ negative ones. Make a habit of saying positive things to yourself in your mind. By controlling your negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones you will regain your previous levels of confi dence and self-esteem.

Question – Is university always the best option?

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My mum and dad have always told us that to get on in life you need to finish school and then do a university degree. My older sister ignored their advice and did a hairdressing course. She now has her own business and it’s really successful. I want to do well in life but I’m confused about the best thing to do with my future. I’ve heard negative things about university degrees. Some people say they are just a way to get massively in debt. I’ve also heard that they don’t really help you get a job. Some of my sister’s friends who got degrees still work in the same jobs they did before they started. Who’s right and who’s wrong – my parents or my sister? Is there any other reason to go to university apart from getting work?


There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ pathways to choose when trying to decide what to do with your future. If you choose the academic route and go to university then you need to make the most of it, take it seriously and work hard. University is not a decision to be entered into lightly (as you’ve heard there are fees to pay) and if you want a degree that will secure your future success, you need to get the best one you possibly can. On the other hand if you want to arm yourself for the job market with a more practical set of skills that will make you immediately employable, then taking a vocational course such as an apprenticeship could be the right way to go. In both cases you will have to work hard and put in the hours. It’s really good to see that you’re thinking about these questions so early on because these choices are really important and will affect the rest of your life. Your parents are much more likely to revise their ideas of what the ‘right’ pathway in life is when they see you’ve made the effort to think things through.

It happened to me

My sister went to university and my parents wanted me to do A levels and follow in her footsteps. But when I discussed this with the careers officer at school I heard of other career paths that interested me so much more than studying! The careers officer suggested I do some work experience first to get an idea of the types of careers I might enjoy, so I wrote to local businesses and asked to spend a few days working with them. One of these was a company that restored antique furniture. I worked with them for a week and discovered that I loved it! After that I went online and found out the best way would be to get an apprenticeship so that I could get proper professional skills, and earn a bit of money, too. Eventually I got an apprenticeship in a large furniture restoration company. It was hard work but it was incredibly valuable. I did a 2-year apprenticeship and have just set up my own business. My sister has recently also got a brilliant job after finishing her university degree, so we are both satisfied with our careers even though our paths to them were very different!