A Guide To Healthy Teen Food Choices

One of the best courses of action regarding good teenage health is to create an environment that makes the consumption of healthy food easy for children, but without placing pressure on them to choose healthy food.  Does this sound confusing?  This article provides information on how to make this work.

Stocking The House With Healthy Food

healthy foods

The saying may not be monkey see, monkey eat; however, this is the case when practically placing healthy food in a home.  Without having an individual grocery budget, teenagers tend to eat whatever is in the kitchen when at home.  If you stock up on sliced vegetables to accompany yogurt-based dips or hummus, this can increase eating healthy foods.  Having apples, clementines or apples visible in a bowl on the counter can promote eating fruit.

It is also recommended that you create an “eat me” box for quick grab-and-go healthy snacks.  For instance, hard-boiled eggs with string cheese and yogurt can be a snack in the refrigerator.  Another snack box includes nuts, whole-grain crackers and dried fruit.  When it comes to drinks, try swapping fizzy soda with sparkling water.  You should also keep the cheese puffs and fried chips to a minimum using whole grain corn chips with salsa.

Eating Healthy Food Yourself

This practical tip for healthy food consumption can be a little more challenging, particularly if you enjoy “junk food”.  However, children are unlikely to adopt healthy eating habits if you are not eating healthy foods.  Children are more observant than they appear and any habits you perform will be modeled in their choices.  So, try snacking on the cheese sticks and apples to act as a model healthy food eater.

While eating healthy food is beneficial, it is important that the meals are well-rounded.  Try eating nutritious whole foods when hungry and stop eating when you are full.  You can also enjoy a treat every now and then showing an incentive to eat healthy foods.  According to research, restrictive diets are one of the leading causes of body image issues in teenagers.  This can result in teens restricting their food options robbing them of good nutrition.  It can also make it challenging for teenagers to develop healthy relationships with food.

Eating Regular Family Meals

Having regular family meals can have various benefits.  In addition to eating healthy foods, teenagers who participate in family meals tend to earn better grades at school and are less likely to use drugs.  If the family sits down for a nutritious Norman Rockwell-esque meal sounds like a crazy idea, you are definitely not alone!

Conflicting weeknight schedules, along with a teen desire for independence, can make it difficult to organize a family meal.  Consistency is essential for this habit to develop, even if you are able to serve additional family meals during the week.  Try to sit down to meals at a dinner table, but you can make this more enjoyable by asking children to choose the food or use new meal kit delivery services. You can’t go wrong with good ol’ fashioned sloppy joes a great nutritious family favorite.

Maintaining Open Communication

Another advantage of having regular family meals is the chance for open communication between adults and teenagers.  Studies find that teens participating in regular family meals are more likely to have a strong relationship with their parents.  However, irrespective of how many family meals you have during a week, it is vital that you check with your teen on what is happening in their lives.

On the subject of healthy food, it is recommended that you communicate your comfort with the teen making food choices outside of the house.  You need your children to understand that you are not attempting to control all of their food choices.  Unfortunately, this often results in the teenager choosing less healthier food options out of rebellion.

Live A Little

While it is important to make your house a place where healthy food options are available, it is important to demonstrate that treats are available as well.  So, don’t be afraid to pass about the buttered popcorn during movie nights or enjoy desserts on special days (or even because you feel they deserve it).  Having treats available to teens every now and then makes the child realize this type of food is a part of life fitting into a diet that balances fun foods with healthy foods.

What You Should Not Do When Organizing Healthy Diets

In addition to promoting certain behaviors when developing healthy diets, it is recommended that certain acts are avoided.

Giving Lectures On Healthy Eating

Basically, knowing about a healthy food product is not a motivation to eat it.  While the nutrition lecture can be interesting to some, this can be demotivating for teenagers.  It is recommended that you interject information about nutritious foods.  Remember to keep the information casual and friendly – saying Brussel sprouts are good sources of vitamin C is less effective than asking the teen to pass the Brussel sprouts because they are good when roasted.

brussel sprout salad

Controlling The Teen’s Food Choices Outside The Home

Choosing food items outside of the home can be compared to dating.  You need to allow children to make mistakes, particularly when they are spending their pocket money.  Providing teens the freedom to experiment with food products is an opportunity for them to indulge in junk foods, but also learn how these indulgences make them feel.

Making Them Consume Any Food

If most cases, any persuasive technique used to promote healthy food will backfire.  Even the most well-intended comments, such as asking them to eat something before going to school, can be misinterpreted as controlling.  The best course of action is to create healthy eating environments in the home and trust the teen to choose healthy foods.  If you suspect your teen has an eating disorder, you should consult a professional.  In all other situations, let the teen feel independent.

It is also vital that forming healthy eating habits occurs over time with the meals chosen is not as significant as the overall dietary pattern.  This helps children form habits of their own accord, but you are creating a healthy environment with meals over which to bond.

 

Comments

  1. If children are brought up to sit at a table when eating they’re much less likely to graze & snack.

  2. Diane Brimmer says

    All three of my kids are teaching healthy choices. When there is dessert the kids will go get fruit or veggies. They also are learning at school to make heathy choices. That really helps parents at home.

  3. Mary Gardner says

    These are good idea. I do agree that you should provide them with knowledge and let them make their own choices.

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