Helping Your Teen Eat Healthier
By Randi Morse
My children's pediatrician once told me that toddlers prepare you for teenagers. She couldn't have been more right! Teenagers and toddlers are alike in so many ways, one of them being with their nutritional needs. Teenagers' brains are going through a lot of changes, learning and growing just like a toddler's does. Yet teens tend to prefer to make unhealthy food choices, just like toddlers do. Getting toddlers to eat healthy is tricky, but getting teens to make healthy choices can be even trickier! Here are a few things that you can do to help your teen make better nutritional choices.
At my house we have what I call the "junk food" cupboard. In that cupboard are all the unhealthy snack cakes and bad food. If I would have thrown all of that food away in one fell swoop, my teens would have rioted. A better option is to slowly get rid of the bad food options in your house. Find the high-sugar or processed foods and slowly get rid of them. Any time the box of treats gets empty, or any time the food gets stale, throw it out and don't replace it. Instead, buy more unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables.
Grab and Go
Teens don't want to cook. I can't tell you how many times my teens have complained about there being no food in the house simply because the food that is here needs to be prepared and cooked. Teens like grab-and-go food, so shop with that in mind. What types of things can you stock in your home that are easily accessible and quick to prepare? Things like Greek yogurt, sliced carrots with ranch dressing, and fruit cups are great options for healthy grab-and-go options.
Eat as a Family
Even though life is busy it's important to sit down and eat dinner together as often as you can. Eating as a family helps to promote healthy eating because you are modeling good behavior. One trick is to serve the food family style. Put all of the food in the center of the table, much like you would during a holiday diner, and allow your teen to pick and choose what they want to eat. You can then make slow changes based on what you observe. If your teen is going straight for the white rice, change it to brown rice. If they're avoiding the vegetables, try adding more fruits.
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