As a parent of teenagers, you know how much they love junk food. They easily reach for French fries, candy and soda and ignore all the healthy snacks you leave in the refrigerator for them. Perhaps it’s time to change all that. Your teens need to learn about nutrition so that they can make better choices and establish good habits. Read on for some ways to teach them.
Model Good Choices
First, make sure that you are modeling good choices for your teens. If you talk to them about eating carrot sticks while you’re munching on onion rings, they aren’t going to take you seriously. This might mean making some changes in your own diet. Begin by paying attention to what you eat and drink each day, and then, if you, too, gravitate toward junk food and sugary drinks, deliberately make different choices. Drink more water, and pack healthy snacks. Plan meals ahead of time, and don’t rely so much on takeout. You might even try a supplement like green superfood powder to give yourself an extra boost. Just make sure your teens see what you’re doing.
Get Teens Involved
In fact, it never hurts to get teens involved in your meal and snack planning process. Each week, have your teens sit with you to plan a weekly menu. Talk to them about balancing lean proteins, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Have them look up healthy recipes to try, put together meal plans and make up shopping lists. This is a good time to teach them about budgeting, too, so that they realize how much your family spends on groceries each week. You might even give them some cooking lessons so that they can prepare and serve meals, too. They’ll be more likely to make healthy choices when they understand what goes in to feeding your family.
Teens do need some rules, though, especially if they’re a bit stubborn about following advice. You might set some limits on the soda and junk food each week, for instance. They can have a treat or two, but otherwise, they must stick to the snacks you have on hand for them. If they’re really struggling with making good choices, have them keep a food chart for a week so that they can notice what they’re eating and how nutritious (or not) it is.
You might hear something from your teens that sounds like “But healthy food just tastes bad!” You’re going to have to prove that it’s not so. Do some research and even a bit of taste testing. Then start with some healthy snacks that really do taste good. Offer some to your teens without mentioning the healthy part, and pretty soon they’ll be gobbling away and exclaiming. Then you can tell them the news. Healthy food can be delicious.
Provide a Few Lessons
Finally, you might have to provide your teens with a few lessons about their health and their food choices. Talk openly to them about the risks of obesity and how poor choices now can lead to health problems down the road. As teens, they probably have the idea that nothing bad will happen to them, and they forget that they won’t always be young. Sometimes sobering realities are necessary. On the other end of the spectrum, some teens may suffer from eating disorders and making unhealthy choices like skipping meals or dieting excessively. Talk to them about the risks, and work with them on setting up a plan that balances proper nutrition with a healthy weight.
Teaching your teens about nutrition and helping them make healthy food choices won’t be easy, but it is important. So try some of these tips, and keep up your efforts to raise healthy teens.