Taking care of my teen’s changing eating habits

In two months, my son will be 14 years old. Yet, it seems he was a child just the other day.

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With the adolescent stage he is in, the body changes he is going through, and his super active lifestyle as a football fanatic, his appetite and eating habits have really changed.

As soon as he gets home from school, he grabs any food within his reach, eats while standing up, drains a whole packet of milk or juice, and is fully capable of finishing off a pot of stew meant for dinner for the whole family.

I don’t know whether it’s just in my house or it is a trend in most households with adolescents, where the teenagers greet their parents in the evening with an empty refrigerator, a sink full of dirty dishes, and the hopeful question, “What’s for dinner?”

The dietary habits of teenagers’ is quite understandable as they are in the active and growing stages of their lives.

And even with the growing appetite of our teens, as parents we should ensure our children are conscious of good dietary habits and understand how what we consume affects our health and general well-being.

My mother is very traditional and whenever she has my son over at her house, she insists that the teenage years are a time of rapid growth and development, so a healthy balanced diet is particularly important.

I agree on having well-balanced meals, rather than too many snacks that are high in fat, sugar, or salt.

My mother made it clear to him that fuelling his body with the right foods can help him feel his best and support his energy levels.

But many times he still prefers quick, convenient foods to fill up, like fast food, sweets, and packaged snack foods. These foods can be enjoyed in moderation, but it is still best for everyone, and especially growing teens, to consist to eat mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods.

Many experts have different recommendations on how to ensure healthy eating for teens, but from my extensive reading, the following stood out:

Start the day with a nutritious breakfast

When you start each day with a nutritious breakfast rich in fibre, it might be the perfect opportunity to get fibre-rich carbohydrates for a morning energy boost to feed active bodies and minds.

Create a quick breakfast with staying power using protein and carb combos, such as fruit smoothies, overnight oats, and whole grain cereal with milk or whole grain bread with boiled eggs or nut butters.

Create a ‘healthy environment’

To avoid disagreeing about food choices, create a healthy food environment by making a wide variety of wholesome foods available in the house. This will make it easier for healthy choices.

Stock easy-to-grab options for lunches and snacks.

Teach your children the basics

Take the time to teach your teen basic kitchen skills, from how to peel and chop vegetables and fruit to using kitchen appliances.

If the basic skills are learned, simple meals or snacks can be prepared with ease, such as blending smoothies, boiling or scrambling eggs, and making a salad. Also, generally encourage healthy eating.

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