This article is by Renae, Maria Elena and Bridget, the writers of the Ask A Teen Column where readers can write in to ask our teens for advice. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your question.
“What tips do you have for parents on keeping teens healthy? I want to encourage my boys to eat better but don’t want to nag. I also want to teach them balance but don’t know how to approach it with them or my tween daughter.”
Eating healthy is important because it gives kids energy that lasts throughout the day, it gives their body the nutrients they need, it helps them stay strong for sports and other extracurricular activities, and it helps them maintain a healthy weight.
Now that we know why eating healthy is important, we’re at the hard part, which is how to help kids eat healthy without our guidance. A few ways to help teens eat healthy are to teach them how to make healthy choices at a young age, find foods that are healthy but also taste good, and the best way to help them eat healthy is to have Family Dinners.
Eating healthy means having regular meals every day and small snacks in between meals. Breakfast is so important when it comes to a growing teen! It gives them brainpower to start off the day and also helps the metabolism wake up. Having Family Dinners helps teens eating as well as family communication. When making dinner for your kids, you choose what and how much is being made. Instead of letting kids take dinner to their bedrooms, set aside a dinner time every day and have dinner together. Make it a normal thing to eat dinner while getting more connected.
A few healthy snack ideas: Raw vegetables (baby carrots), fruit salad, sunflower seeds, peanut butter with apples or crackers, fruits (apples, grapes, strawberries, oranges), cottage cheese, yogurt, nuts, string cheese, popcorn, and sugar free Jello.
~Renae is a 16-year-old from Lowell, MI. She is a creative individual who spends a lot of her time reading and learning Japanese because she would like to become a Journalist in Japan.
I think the best way to approach this type of situation is by buying lots of healthy food, and starting to get healthy as a family. Begin eating healthier yourself, so that way your teen boys and tween girl can see that you are trying, so they should also try to. It’s always easiest to eat healthy when you have the support from your entire family. Also try different things out like family outings that consist of you guys going hiking, running, etc. I know this sounds cheesy, and this may not work considering you have teen boys, but try it and if it does work you will grow as a family and also get in shape. You can always try talking to them too, but tell them it’s only for their best and you mean no harm by it. Tell them you care about them and that you are not “nagging”, only trying to help. I’m sure everything will work out, and if they don’t listen at first, I’m sure they eventually will, it just takes time. Hope this helps.
~Bridget is a 15 year old from Austin, Tx. She has a passion for writing and aspires to be a journalist when she’s older, when she’s not writing you can find her listening to her ipod or at a concert!
Keeping teens healthy is a hard task to do because we’re always on the go and convenience tends to come before calories on the list of priorities. To encourage your boys to choose the healthier option, only offer the healthy snacks after practices, games, or between lunch and dinner. Taking junk foods away completely won’t cause them psychological damage, but on the other hand a treat every day or every once and awhile isn’t too bad. Eventually they’ll get into the habit of going for healthy snacks versus the not-so-healthy snacks and they probably won’t even notice. For your daughter, stress the fact that it’s not because she needs to be a certain shape or size, but that she needs to be healthy and strong. Sometimes parents approach their daughters incorrectly about making wise food choices and it is misunderstood as an insult for their weight.
Try the following:
- Mix up their snack foods in their lunches or what’s in the fridge or on the counter.
- Urge being active for at least 20 – 40 minutes daily, whether it’s taking the dog for a walk, doing some chores, or playing tag with your neighbors.
- Stray from using phrases that stem from “don’ts” and use ones that state what they should do.
- Show that being healthy doesn’t have to be some grueling experience, it can be fun, simple, and easy with just a little bit of effort.
~ Maria Elena is a 16-year-old from Wilmington, DE. She enjoys dancing and cooking and her favorite subject is Math because she likes solving big equations.