None of us expect to grow up and sound like our mothers. But, we do and it is not always a bad thing. When it comes to teaching your teen about staying healthy, remember what mother always said.
You are what you eat and that’s no lie. Teens these days have schedules that are full of classes, studying, extracurricular activities and home life. There is hardly enough time for food. When there is it is often fast food, quick frozen meals or sweet snacks. Their young bodies can probably handle this if they are active enough, but for some teens, their genes won’t support such habits.
This is where parents come in. It is our job to give our kids not only the rules about right and wrong, but how to take care of themselves for life. This includes teaching them about eating healthy.
- Dispel the rumors – When you mention healthy, all anyone sees is rabbit food. We are talking about carrots and lettuce for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating like that will help you retain weight but it will also send you scurrying to that stash of snacks in a hurry. Teach them that all foods are okay to eat in moderation. They can still have their favorites.
- Introduce them to new foods – Many teens are creatures of habit. They probably won’t try anything new, let alone green, without your “influence.” Use dinner time as experimentation time. Start by adding new fruits and vegetables to meal staples to create unique and flavorful tastes. In fact, let the entire family try and evaluate foods that are better for them.
- Teach them to cook – It is a useful skill that will keep them from starving and help them save money as they get older. When you cook, you know what ingredients are in your food. Talk about the best way to eat vegetables, how to cook meats for less fat content and what you can substitute in meals to get all the taste with fewer calories.
- Discuss how food works in their body – This is important, because many people live to eat instead of eating to live. Show them how to use food as energy and when to eat certain foods for maximum feelings of fullness and to rev up the metabolism. Their eyes will be opened and they may even enjoy the learning experience. Also discuss emotional eating and other ways to deal with troubles.
- Erase “diet” from their vocabulary – Diet is a word that needs to be stricken from the mind. Eating healthy is not about eliminating food but limiting how much you eat. Talk about portion size and making every bite count.
Are you trying not to nag your teen about their eating habits? Use these examples to get them more interested in their own health.