Healthy eating during teenage years lays the foundation of a healthy life. Since your teens are still in their growing years, the habits you inculcate in them would go a long way through the rest of their lives. Children at this age have their own opinions, so it is important to work as a team, rather than forcing yourself on them. Though, it may seem challenging to get your teen eating right as they have insatiable desire for mostly junk food, so you will have to take care of their diet personally. The calorie requirement for your teenage son is around 2,200 to 3,200 calories and for a teenage girl is 1,600 to 2,200 calories per day.
Start the day right
Teenagers would not want to get out of the bed early because of the unending number of things they want to do at night, like getting glued to their computer, watching T.V, etc. resulting into a late night which stops them from getting up early. So, it is important to see that they sleep on time at night, so that they can get up on time in the morning. Don’t ever let them miss their breakfast as breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast consisting of high fiber cereal, fruit, whole wheat toast, nuts and juice or milk would provide your teen with energy and would look after his nutritional needs as well. Try to make breakfast more interesting by adding variety like making different kind of sandwiches or trying different recipes of egg, etc.
Try to pack a healthy lunch for school so that your teen avoids eating fast food from the school cafeteria. Teach your teen about the importance of healthy food, so that they can change their outlook about food. Make them aware of the long term and short term advantages and disadvantages of unhealthy foods like pizza, burgers, ice cream and fries etc. Tell them that these foods can satiate the craving for a short while but have long term disadvantages like weight gain and cholesterol problems etc. instead give them a choice of a healthy lunch consisting of lean meat sandwiches, wraps, baked potato, pitas and fresh fruits etc. A well thought and stylish insulated lunch box would definitely do the trick.
Watch what they drink
If you don’t watch out, your teen may start adding those extra inches on their waist line in the years of their growth. These extra calories are not only because of the food intake but could also be because of those sugary and soda drinks. Try and incorporate some nice tangs, seltzer, green tea and fresh fruit juice in their diet. Educate them about the importance of water and how fluids flush the unnecessary toxins out of the body and regulate the metabolism. Try to limit keeping the carbonated drinks in the refrigerator. Make it a routine for them to start their day with water, so that their body remains hydrated throughout the day and make sure that they always carry a water bottle with them as whenever they feel thirsty during the day they reach out for their water bottle instead of the unhealthy drink options.
Set an example
Remember that children consciously or unconsciously derive inspiration from parents. Even if you educate your teen about the benefits of healthy eating and you are unable to follow them for yourself, remember your teen is watching you. Make sure you eat healthy and stay fit before pointing it out to them . Even if you have some health struggles like excessive weight or unhealthy snacking issues still try to put it at rest at least in front of them. Try to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies and whole grain cereals in your own diet too.
Smart and wise snacking
Teenage is the time when children are going through a hormonal change and this is also the time when they put on weight during their transition into adulthood. Teens have a busy schedule of school, physical activity and their body demands in between snacking, so try to keep some tasty and healthy snack options handy in the refrigerator, so that they do not munch on unhealthy processed snacks in school or at home. You could offer sliced fruit or vegetable with tasty yogurt dips, wheat crackers, low fat cheese slices and dark chocolates etc. Learn to make some attractive dressings for fruits and salads so that your teen is unable to resist them.
Learn to cook
If you want your teen to eat healthy then it is important for you to know how to cook. Remember children in their teen years are really attracted to attractive looking and tasty food options. Attractive appearance of the food is really more palatable for anyone. If you cook yourself then you can keep the nutritional needs of your teen in mind and can provide them with attractive yet healthy meal options. You could also maintain a chart of his need for iron, calcium, vitamins, minerals and fiber and prepare a meal accordingly.
Children in their teen years start getting conscious about their looks and weight, especially girls. Media has a lot to contribute to this situation. Your teen girl could start dreaming to achieve that hour glass figure like the models she sees on T.V. Educate your children about the hazards of dieting and rather incorporate healthy foods in their diet which would help them to stay healthy without putting on weight. Tell them how these fad diets would eliminate those necessary nutrients from their body and hamper their growth.
Respect their decisions
Being a control freak would neither help you or your teen, so be patient. While incorporating the healthy eating regime in their diet, make sure that you are respecting their decisions too. Teach them the short term and long term benefits of healthy eating and leave rest to their decision. Remember your teen is an autonomous body, who has his own individuality and with your guidance and support would make a right choice. Even if they are eating out, educate them not to overindulge and take small helpings with some gap in between. Remember eating right doesn’t mean you become a control freak; occasionally a favorite junk food of your teen’s choice would do no harm.
When in doubt, ask
Teenagers need healthy food for their growth and nutritional needs. It is wise to create a healthy eating plan for your child, but still if you feel that you are unable to provide your child with sufficient amount of nutrients then it would be wise to consult a nutritionist to avoid all the stumbling blocks and seek that extra guidance to ease your nerves.