With today’s lifestyle the average teenager may find that they by no means, have healthy eating habits. Between classes they may grab a chocolate bar out of the vending machine at school or they run by the store and grab some chips before heading to their friend’s house. It is difficult to constantly monitor what your teen may or may not be eating.
Teenagers today are very busy. They have social events, after school activities, part-time work, sports activities and a whole range of things that keeping them occupied. Sometimes sitting down and enjoying a healthy home cooked meal is something they don’t want to take the time to do.
With the way that body image is portrayed today in the media, teenagers, especially girls, may also feel that if they eat too much that they will get gain weight. So grabbing a chocolate bar here or there for a quick sugar rush that will provide them with energy may be more appealing to them than sitting at home with mum and dad and eating a full meal.
The way teenagers eat is also affected by the many food fad myths circulating around in the media. They may avoid sugar totally because of someone telling them of sugar causing acne. Or, they may avoid salads because they believe the concept that ALL oils will do the same.
Whilst sugar and acne may be indirectly related to some degree, cutting out certain foods in their diet based on incorrect or incomplete information may not be such a good idea. Who knows what other nutrition choices they are making based on such “everybody knows” food myths.
So, what can be done to help your teenager?
As a parent there are several steps you can take to ensure that your teenager is eating well. You can prepare a healthy lunch for them complete with snacks that they can have in between classes. If they have an after school activity, try to prepare something they can have “on the go”.
Try to provoke at least a little thought as to what they are eating by reducing the junk food alternatives available to them around the house.
Try not to let them miss meals. Eating three regular meals everyday will do more for them in maintaining high energy levels and good nutrition than anything else. This additionally helps them maintain their correct weight because of the high calories in junk food causing weight gain.
Begin by buying sodas and flavored waters in low sugar form and progress to sugar-free. If you can ease them over the initial shock and complaining of drinking these products you will have helped them cut down their high calorie intake.
There are lots more things you can do. After a while they will start to occur to you. Don’t give up. Without trying to apply pressure, attempt to instill a healthy attitude towards eating in your teenagers. They may not understand what you are trying to do or why you are trying to do it and it could cause problems if you pressure them too much.
They may feel you are suggesting they are overweight, which could lead to hurt feelings and introspection on the subject. If you don’t look out for them, then who will? There may not be much that you can do to help them get rid of acne; however, just keep in mind that what you are doing will help them to prevent heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes later in life.
Above all set a good example by doing the right things yourself. After all by the time a child is a teenager the one thing a parent should have learned is that kids don’t always do what you say but they usually will do what you do!