A lot of parents who come to me for advice are concerned about their teenagers not eating right. Teenagers on the other hand are worried more about their ‘Body Image’ and ‘looking good’ and are now seeking help to achieve these goals which more often than not mean not eating enough or eating unhealthy.
A majority of teenage girls that come to me for diet counselling do so in order to become skinny and popular rather than finding out ways to eat healthy. This is a dangerous trend often with long term consequences.
A teenager’s body goes through many physical changes that need to be supported by a healthy, balanced diet, enabling environment and support. Teens like to feel like adults when it comes to lifestyle choices. This is exactly what is needed and parents need to make their teenage kids a part of the decision making process. Rather than adopting a paternalistic attitude, educating them with the right knowledge on diet, helps shape appropriate decision making.
Why I can’t go to school without breakfast?
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which keeps your weight right and gives you immunity so don’t have to skip any of the fun parties. Also it will make you smarter in the class.
Take your teenager along with you for grocery shopping. Make them choose smart by enhancing their knowledge on how to interpret / read food labels. Cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate could be a good start.
Teenagers must have their 5-a-Day vegetables and fruits. Involve them in the kitchen while cooking or preparing family meals. Let them try a couple of family recipes their way and guide them on how they can still retain nutrition.
Teenagers must also consume at least 2 glasses of milk or yogurt or plain curd and incorporate other calcium rich sources like whole grains and pulses, dark green leafy vegetables etc. So next time opt for spinach pesto or basil pesto to your pasta instead of cheese sauce.
Pack your bag: Between school, homework, sports, after-school activities and hanging out with friends, it may feel like there's no time for healthy eating. And when you do stop to eat, it's probably tempting to go the quick and easy route by grabbing a burger and fries, potato chips, or candy. But it is possible to treat yourself to a healthy snack. In fact, if you have a hectic schedule, it's even more important to eat healthy foods that give you the fuel you need to keep going. Take charge in packing your own lunch to school. A sandwich from the school canteen is usually laden with unnecessary empty calories and mayonnaise or cheese. Make a sandwich with whole wheat bread and vegetables, low fat chicken or turkey slices etc. Pass on the fries. If the portion is too big have half and save half for later.
Make sure your snacks are in healthy portions. Eating healthy doesn’t mean that you can never have a cookie again, but you’ll have to control the number of cookies you eat. Try grabbing a piece of fruit and one cookie for a snack instead of sitting down with the whole bag of cookies.
Don’t snack in front of the TV or computer. Most people who eat in front of the TV eat too much because they’re paying attention to what’s happening on screen and not to what they’re eating. If you’re going to snack while watching TV or being on the computer, put the amount you want to eat in a bowl - don’t bring the whole bag to the couch.
Kick out the junk food – choose a healthier option instead! Here are some ideas to try:
Being healthy and having enough energy throughout the day is more important than what you weigh. It’s easy to make healthy choices when eating out with friends too.
Most fast food restaurants now offer healthier options, like salads, baked potatoes, fruit, or low-fat milk instead of soda. As you become more familiar with the food nutrition labels, you can look at other contents, too.
Start a trend in school of packed lunches or eating healthy at the cafeteria while also having something to show for it by being active throughout the day and saving up for an awesome new iPhone that you’ve been begging your parents to get you.
Be unique! Stay cool!