Healthy eating habits begin when your child is a baby. Unfortunately, as they grow older, those healthy habits don’t always remain. If your teen is eating more junk than you’d like, here’s some tips on how to encourage your teen to eat healthy again.
Since most teens have a growth spurt during this time, it’s important to encourage them to eat foods that can help during this time. Teens may gain about 20% of their adult height during this period, and as much as 50% of their adult weight. Their need for vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium and iron, also increases, so it’s even more important to encourage your teen to eat healthy meals and snacks.
Eating as family for as many meals as possible will encourage your teen to be more choosy in what they eat. If they know you cook meals and generally eat at the same time each night, they’ll do what they can to be home. Obviously, eating meals together is more than providing physical nourishment; it’s also about reconnecting at the end of the day and knowing they’ll have an opportunity to talk with you.
Another way to encourage healthy eating habits is to ask your teens to help in the kitchen. If they have a hand in preparing the food, they may be more likely to eat foods that are good for them. Of course, you have to be serving healthy foods for them to eat them.
If you eat in front of the television, you and they could be more likely to overeat or choose unhealthy foods whenever food commercials are shown. Advertisements are made to elicit a response to purchase what you see in them. Quite often, however, the ads merely encourage you to eat whether you’re actually hungry or not. In fact, leaving the television off as much as possible can go a long way toward helping everyone in your family eat more healthfully.
Keep healthy foods in your house at all times. This means having plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages available and easily accessible. If your teen can quickly grab some grapes, an apple, or vegetable sticks, they’ll be less likely to seek out snacks that aren’t so good for them. Not bringing the junk food into your house will mean they don’t have much of a choice when they’re hungry, so they’ll have to get the stuff that’s better for them.
Be a good role model for your teens. If they see you consciously making an effort to eat foods that are good for you, it may encourage them to follow suit. If all they do is see you eating crisps, dips, and sweets they’ll be less likely to eat healthy foods.
Refrain from eating at fast food restaurants too often. Although some fast food places now offer healthier choices, if you eat there often your teen may choose non-healthy foods instead. If they must eat a hamburger, encourage them to get the smaller portion rather than the super-sized portions.
The teen years will see your children grow toward adulthood and independence. If you’ve encouraged your teen to eat healthy foods while they’re at home with you, they’ll be more likely to continue eating well when they move out of your home.