Today’s teenagers are a force of nature. They juggle piles of schoolwork, sports, activities, a social life, and maybe even the occasional night at home with mom and dad. Their packed schedules barely allow them to come up for air. Yes, they have the enthusiasm and metabolism of youth. Even so, if their lives lose balance, especially regarding their diets, then even they might suffer from succumbing to bad habits.
Teenagers might seem fairly grown-up, but those young bodies are still growing, and their keen minds are still developing, so they must know their nutritional needs. Parents, guardians, and friends can provide some dietary coaching for these kids on the go, leading by example and encouraging healthy meals and nutritious snacks.
Planning Healthy Snack Options
Sometimes a busy lifestyle, particularly for teenagers, can lead to unhealthy meal choices like fast food, which is readily available, inexpensive, and tastes good. It’s okay to admit that French fries taste great, but a steady fry diet has little value and only takes the place of food that can contribute to a healthy diet.
Having accessible, easy meals and grab-and-go snacks will keep your teens on track while bouncing from one activity to another. You know what they like, so keep a steady supply of meal and snack choices that will entice them to eat healthily. Rather than resort to the nearest high-sodium, high-fat, and high-sugar products marketed to their age group.
A Few Tips to Feed Your Teenagers
Consult with them first. It would be a waste to purchase nut butter if they only like peanut butter or celery when they prefer bags of carrots. They will continue to be more invested in maintaining healthy eating habits if they contribute to the planning process and know what to expect when they need a meal on the run.
Allocate places for “their foods only.” A vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator or a cabinet shelf is perfect for them to know that these are their designated snacks. And they can select them without wasting time! Supply the fridge with yogurt, single-serving containers of hummus and guacamole, hard-boiled eggs, cut-up vegetables, string cheese, and handy fruits like apples and grapes.
Keep tuna pouches, whole-grain crackers and pretzels, dried fruit, trail mix, homemade granola, and high-protein cereal bars on your pantry shelves. And to make it even easier for your teen, assemble some ready-made lunch bags filled with these snacks so they can pick up a sack and stay on the move. They will be assured to have a little something to sustain them until the next meal, and parents will be reassured that their kids are eating right.
When They Need More Than a Snack
Again, consulting with your child is the best place to start when planning for more substantial meals to go. They know where and when they can eat, so come up with a menu of delicious things that are not messy and provide more sustenance. Wraps and pita pockets are perfect for lean chicken and turkey, cheese, and extra veggies. Small, inexpensive containers that you won’t miss if they forget to bring them home can be filled with pasta salad loaded with chickpeas for a protein boost. Prepare these in advance of their day or week so they have healthy grab-and-go options.
Something to Wash It Down
Keep those kids hydrated. It can’t be stressed enough that teenagers need to maintain their fluids. Advise them to carry and constantly refill a reusable water bottle. And if they need a little extra something for flavor, a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime can add taste and some vitamin C. Coconut water is another excellent option because it has the benefits of being low in calories (compared to sodas and sports drinks) and high in electrolytes.
Don’t Skip Dessert
Let’s be realistic. Sometimes a kid just needs a cookie. But rather than giving them cookies that are processed and have zero nutritional value, make your own healthier version. Oatmeal cookies filled with nuts and dried fruit offer a little better option in the dessert department, and your kids will be satisfied with this kind of tasty treat. There are also fantastic baking flour alternatives, such as gluten-free flour, that are untraceable in flavor and texture but much healthier than their processed counterparts.
Take a minute and marvel at our amazing teenagers. Their passion and energy for life are hopeful signs that this current generation is destined for an incredible journey. One crucial way to keep them on this path is to connect with them about eating healthy food and then provide them with nutritious and delicious options.