Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m 14 and overweight because I love to eat. I live with my parents and my mother’s mother. My grandmother is a great cook and does most of the cooking and meal preparation. Since she was born in Italy, she prepares absolutely the best Italian food this side of Rome! My dad, mom and younger brother are all overweight, too.

They don’t seem to be too worried about their extra pounds, but I am. What can I do to change my eating habits and to not make my grandma upset with me? Also, I want to continue enjoying Italian food. I love it!

I’m told that I am pretty by friends and relatives, and I want to have a fun teen life. But I don’t think that will happen for me, as I’m overweight due to eating lots of fattening foods. Please help!

— Anonymous,

Hackensack, New Jersey

Dear Anonymous: I’m fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of spending a summer in Rome, acting as a director of the “Study in Europe” program for high school students. The sites were spectacular and so was the food. But I didn’t notice the Roman citizens as being obese. In fact, I was impressed with their trim and stylish appearance.

Since their food was basically good old Italian cuisine, it shows that Italian food is not the villain in your battle of the “bulge.” Is it possible that Grandma adds a bit more cheese and meat than is necessary when preparing her Italian meals?

Losing weight is a difficult task, but by learning what to eat and what to avoid, you can have positive results. Eat more vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini and other fresh veggies, which can be more delicious when smothered in Grandma’s marinara sauce — without added cheese or meat. You should also limit your pasta intake to one small serving. Avoid junk foods, start an exercise program, get proper rest and you will indeed begin to lose weight.

Make sure that Grandma receives praise for her “special” Italian food that will help you lose weight.

Is it possible that your brother, mother and father would join you in your new low-calorie “Italian Delight?”

HONOR STUDENT DESERVES EXTRA TIME

Dr. Wallace: I’m 15 and fairly popular at school. I have a lot of good friends, both boys and girls. One reason is that I’m president of the pep club. Because of my school activities, I get a lot of phone calls from fellow students, but I don’t fall behind on my studies because I get my homework finished right when I get home from school. In the evening, I usually hang out with my family and watch movies or sports. I especially like the Olympics and these days, basketball games on television. March Madness televises both the men’s and women’s brackets, and our family watches it all with great interest!

On school nights, I have to be in bed by 10:30 p.m. and by 11:30 p.m. on weekends and during summer break. Now my dad is making a new rule: I can’t call out on my cellphone after 8 p.m., and I can’t receive any calls after 8:30 p.m. on school nights. I think this is too restrictive. However, he did say that he would move those times back by half an hour if you give your OK to me on this topic. Do you agree with my request? — Amber, Norman, Oklahoma

AMBER: You said the magic words I love to hear: honor roll. That’s why I’m strongly recommending an extra 30 minutes be given for you to make telephone calls. Also, let your father know I believe he is a wise, flexible parent who has raised a successful and thoughtful daughter!

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at rwallace@thegreatestgift.com. To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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— Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.