Healthy Diet for Teens
If you have a teenager in your house then you know first hand how much they can eat and some of the wrong choices they can make. Even though they are growing up and becoming independent it is still the job of the parent to guide them in the right direction when it comes to good nutrition. Teens can pick up bad habits such as skipping meals, drinking too many sugary drinks and choosing too many fast foods and/or processed foods. They tend to forget about fruits and veggies and go right for the sweet stuff or the fatty foods that will satisfy their cravings. Teens still need a bit of guidance and it helps if they have healthy foods to choose from at home. Good nutrition is what provides teens with proper development, the mental and physical energy they need for physical activities and school and a proper head start for good health for a lifetime. Eating healthy now will lower their risk of obesity and so many other health related conditions.
Healthy eating and lifestyle tips for teenagers:
- Always start their day with breakfast. For a well balanced breakfast include lean protein, complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains such as oatmeal, whole grain cold cereal, whole wheat breads or whole grain waffles along with a piece of whole fruit and a dairy product such as milk, low-fat cheese or low-fat yogurt.
- Encourage your child to eat a healthy lunch and talk to them about the healthy choices that are available at their school or in the restaurants around their school. Your best choice is to have your child pack their lunch for school. That way you and your child have more control over what they are eating at school.
- Help your child to pack lunches that include veggies, fruits, lean protein, fat-free or low-fat dairy products and complex carbohydrates such as a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with carrots, an apple and a low-fat yogurt.
- Have healthy snacks available in the house for after school munching. If all your child has to choose from are healthier snacks they won’t be inclined to pick unhealthy ones. Snacks can be great for growing and developing teens that need a few extra calories and lots of extra nutrition. You can include fresh fruit, cut up veggies with hummus, nuts, low-fat yogurt, low-fat microwave popcorn, whole grain cereal with fat-free milk, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs or low-fat cheese just to name a few.
- Eat a healthy dinner together as a family as often as possible. Research has shown that teens who eat with their families tend to pick up healthier habits. This is also the perfect time of day to open up communication with your children.
- The teenage years can be difficult for both parents and teens. Teens can be feel pressure to be a certain weight or may begin restricting food for sports or social events. If you feel at any time that your teen may have some type of eating disorder or that they are doing something that may harm their health speak with them in a supportive manner. If you are concerned you should make an appointment with your child’s doctor.
- Most teens, whether they are involved in sports or not, do not get the recommended amount of physical activity daily. If your teen tends to be too sedentary find an activity to do together like walking, jogging, bike riding, hiking and/or swimming. Research has shown that being physically active with your child can have several positive benefits besides the time you can spend together such as better self-esteem.
- Keep in mind that you should be a role model for your child. If you want them to eat healthier and stay physically active then you have to practice what you preach.
Choose your battles wisely with your teen. Educate them on good nutrition, be a role model, stock the house with healthier foods and be active together. Support them instead of constantly battling with them about their habits, which might lead them to do the opposite. By doing everything you can you are giving them the skills they need later in life to lead healthier lives and that is about all you can do as a parent.
Teens Health: http://kidshealth.org/
Feeding Your Teenager: http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/feeding-your-teenager
Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide For Teenagers: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/take_charge.htm