Every parent wants the very best for their children. And a phenomenal amount of physical and mental growth and development happens during the teenage years. Teens are navigating growth spurts, hormonal shifts, and sporadic eating habits. Plus, you want to teach them to take control of their health by making healthy habits a priority—a mindset that stays with them as they grow into adulthood. Here are some useful tips for nutrition for teens.
With your teenager’s fledgling freedom, you might not have as much control over their healthy eating decisions as you once did. Whether you have a hungry athlete, a developing tween, or a genius academic, here are eight tips for nutrition for teens to keep your self healthy and thriving.
- Relationship Drama with Food
As teens mature, they’re bound to have their fair share of relationship drama, whether with a crush or a frenemy. Teens often define their self-image and relationship with food during these formative years. In a society obsessed with diet culture, fad diets, and unrealistic body expectations, be mindful how you discuss food, weight, and lifestyle with your teens. Eating disorders often develop during the teenage years. A healthy teen is one who views food as fuel, not as good or bad. Be sure to set a positive example for health in your household. Ask your teen about their relationship with food and with themselves. It may be an awkward conversation at first, but if they know your home is a safe space, they’re more likely to open up.
- Breakfast of Champions
You know that “brekkie” is the most important meal of the day, yet you probably have a teenager who skips breakfast to rush out the door every morning. Breakfast breaks down to “break fast.” It’s the first meal after a long fast during sleep. The food your teen eats for breakfast can impact their whole day—from blood sugar levels, to energy, it can even affect their mood.
Encourage your teen to eat:
- Protein shakes—watch for hidden sugars
- Green smoothies—to sneak in veggies
- Whole/Multi grains—for energy
- Unprocessed, low sugar cereal alternatives—like yoghurt and granola
- Lean proteins—like turkey bacon/sausage, eggs, Greek yoghurt
- Good fat sources—like low-fat cheese and avocado
- Hype Up Hydration
This goes for teens and parents alike—hydration is key to a healthy day. Your body is made up of 60 per cent water and most of us struggle to replenish the amount we need for optimal health. Dehydration can lead to various issues that compound if you or your teen are exercising, playing a sport, or out in the sun a lot. Hydrating first thing in the morning, with every meal, and before, during, and after exercise are all good habits. It’s recommended to drink at least half your weight in grams of water per day.
- The Danger of Drinking Empty Calories
Late-night study sessions and sporadic sleep patterns may have your teen reaching for energy drinks, but it’s definitely not the healthiest choice for growing bodies. A healthy option if your teen is pulling an all-nighter is natural caffeine from teas like ginseng and green tea. Moderation is key. Too much caffeine isn’t good for anyone.
If your teen’s school is full of vending machines with sugary juices and sodas, try educating them on the danger of drinking too much sugar and too many calories. Empty calories are hiding inside those fizzy, sweet beverages. Sure, these drinks are fine every once and while, but they can cause headaches, blood sugar spikes and crashes, and poor focus if you crack one open every day.
- Fresh, Clean Foods for Life
To foster a positive, lifelong relationship with food, teach your teen there’s healthy food and not-so-healthy food, rather than good and bad food. It’s this good verses bad mentality that can lead eating to be seen as something to be punished for, hidden, or shameful. Some foods have better nutrients, vitamins, and energy than others—that’s all. Some have more sugars which break down quickly. Others have more fats or grains that break down slowly, releasing sustained energy. Bursts of energy have their place, but encourage your teens to go for healthier, slow-release foods. Fresh, clean, and green first.
Here’s a list of everyday swaps to get you started:
- Enriched flour pastas < veggie noodles
- White bread or rice < whole grain bread or brown rice
- Heavy oils < avocado oil
- Greasy, high fat meats < leaner, baked meats
- Crisps, chips, or processed snacks < bake your own veggie, low sodium, or low sugar alternatives
- Extra servings < drink a full glass of water or have another helping of veggies. Then if you’re still hungry, go ahead and get seconds
- Sugary drinks < herbal teas, sparkling or flat water with frozen berries, a little fruit juice, or citrus slices (limes, lemons, grapefruit, oranges)
- It’s the Little Things: Vitamins and Minerals
Iron, calcium, vitamin C—they’re all essential vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. An unstable diet makes it easy for teens to miss out on these vital nutrients. Proflavanol C 100 provides your teenager a broad spectrum health benefits and extra support against free-radical damage. This unique blend of grape-seed extract and vitamin C supports normal, healthy cardiovascular function, healthy skin appearance, and helps to support immunity, even easing common cold symptoms*.
- Shuffle Up the Menu
Just like everything else in a teen’s world, food can get boring pretty quickly. Part of a well-balanced, healthy diet includes eating a variety of foods. Hit shuffle on this week’s menu to keep tastes interesting. Enjoying a variety of foods not only keeps their tastebuds satisfied, it ensures they get the nutrition for teens they need to grow strong and stay healthy. Try cooking a dish from a different culture or country or pick up a new in-season vegetable.
- Teach Your Teen to Cook
Teenagers love their independence. Developing new skills, forming new opinions, and having new experiences all prepare them for full-fledged adulthood. When it comes to newfound freedom, cooking for themselves is right up there with getting their driver’s licence. Test out a new cooking method together—like air frying or pressure cooking.
When they’re in control of crafting their own cuisine, eating becomes fun. And it’s great practice for when they leave the nest.
Food can be a tricky subject, especially during the ever-changing chaos of teen years. These eight tips give you some new ideas and ways to tackle good nutrition for teens. Teaching your teens the importance of what they put into their bodies at a young age creates healthy habits they carry with them all of their lives. Just like everything else you teach them, they’re sure to say a huge “thank you” someday.