Teenagers need to eat a healthy diet to do well in school and other activities, maintain their weight and reach their potential as adults. Some teenagers find eating a healthy diet difficult to do since they have busy schedules and often have little time to sit down and eat. Other teenagers are bombarded with junk food day in and day out and are unsure how to start eating healthy food.
When to Eat
If you have teenagers at home, try to schedule regular meal times for them. Eating a family meal together not only helps your teenagers eat better, it also gives you time to reconnect as a family. Have your teenager wake up early enough in the morning so that she has time to prepare and eat a quick breakfast. Eating breakfast will help her get through the morning portion of her school day without feeling too tired or crashing. Help her pack a lunch and bring a healthy snack or two to school so that she can avoid the candy-filled vending machines.
What to Eat
Like adults, teenagers should aim to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. According to KidsHealth, teenagers should aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Give your teenager an apple or orange to bring to school, have her slice a banana and sprinkle it on her breakfast cereal and serve a small salad before dinner. Teenagers also need to get plenty of calcium since their bodies are growing quickly. Dairy products provide a great deal of calcium. If your teenager is lactose intolerant or allergic to milk, he can get calcium from leafy greens, such as kale, broccoli or from calcium-enriched soy products.
Foods to Skip
Although sodas, fast food and candy are popular with teenagers, it is best that your teenager try to avoid eating them as much as popular. Junk food provides no benefit to a growing body and can lead to health problems later on. Encourage your teenager to trade in junk food for tasty, healthy foods, such as nuts, high fiber crackers and fresh fruit. It’s OK for a teenager to have a soda or dessert every so often as a treat.
Learn How to Cook
One way your teenager can improve his eating habits is to learn how to prepare his own meals. Teach your teenager how to cook simple meals, such as broiled chicken and steamed vegetables, or various vegetable-based soups. If you aren’t much of a cook yourself, you may want to sign up for healthy cooking lessons together. It’ll be a way for you to bond while learning to eat better and to improve your health.
Learn to Enjoy Food
An eat-on-the-run diet encourages teenagers to gulp their food down, without actually tasting it. Eating too quickly can often lead to eating too much, according to KidsHealth. Teenagers should sit down and slow down while they eat, so that they can become better attuned to their bodies’ signals. According to Young Women’s Health, it takes about 20 minutes for the body to sense that it is full. Teenagers should also learn to ask themselves why they are eating. Some teenagers eat to stave off boredom or stress. Learning to enjoy food truly will help them learn to eat only when hungry.