One way to ensure your child will be healthy going into their teen years is to start them off eating healthy foods and developing good eating habits. However, children don’t always follow the examples their parents give them. Even if your teen hasn’t developed healthy eating habits, it is never too late to teach them.
Set a good example. Your teen pays attention to what you do and say. If you try to insist that they eat fruit while you eat a cupcake, they won’t believe you think nutrition is important. Let them see you making healthy food choices and they are more likely to follow suit.
Don’t bring unhealthy snack foods into the home. You may not be able to control what your teen does when you’re not around, but having only healthy foods in your home will make healthy food choices easier for them.
Establish regular meal times and insist that each family member be present. Obviously this isn’t going to work for everyone, but having regular meal times can be a great encouragement for your teen to choose healthy foods.
Encourage them to eat breakfast each day. Experts say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Do what you can to ensure they eat it each day.
Dieticians will recommend eating three small meals and three snacks per day to keep blood sugar levels stable. This is something that can be beneficial for everyone.
Make as many dishes from scratch as you can. Homemade meals are healthier than those created using pre-packaged items. You have more control over what goes into the meal as well as what doesn’t.
Enlist your teen’s help when preparing family meals. Once your child reaches their teenage years, it won’t be long before they have to fend for themselves. Take time to teach your child about healthy eating. Have them help you plan family meals, go to the grocery store to purchase the necessary items and then come home to cook it. These skills will be so important once they move out, there’s no time like the present to begin.
Keep healthy snacks on hand. Fresh fruits and vegetables, dried nuts, whole grain snacks and healthy drinks will give your teen the nutrients they need as well as keep them from empty calories from other snacks.
Experiment with new foods. Perhaps your family has never tried different ethnic foods. Perhaps you can try a different ethnic food once or twice a month. Encourage your family to try new foods and enlarge their palate.
Be aware that their friends can also be a good influence. If their friends go for healthy options, they are likely to do the same. There is also social media. Many teens are using social media to get information about healthy eating and to motivate themselves to eat healthier. This is a great shift in the way teens think about their health and shows that they are willing to take charge of their health and make positive changes.
Perhaps you weren’t as concerned about what your teen ate as a child because there wasn’t as much emphasis on healthy eating as there is now. Even if your teen hasn’t always had good eating habits, you can start now to help them make healthier choices.