How To Get Your Teenagers To Eat Healthy Food On Their Own
Choosing or preparing healthy food for teenagers isn't the only way to help them develop a healthy lifestyle. Here's how to nurture them to make the same choices for themselves
Teenagehood is a phase of self-awareness and discovery. Teenagers want to do things their own way, and eating healthy food, may not necessarily fall under something they would want to do. So, a parent would have to find ways to encourage them to eat healthily.
Healthy food for teenagers: Helping them develop a healthy lifestyle
Having teenagers who are determined to eat what they want is normal - even if it isn't always healthy. This is okay and shouldn't upset you because healthy eating habits take time to pick up. On the other hand, this doesn't mean you should just let them eat whatever they want. Here are ways you can get your teenager to eat more healthy food and less junk.
- Start small
The mind has a way of blowing things out of proportion. You have spent time worrying about your teenager's unhealthy eating habits. All you can imagine is all the ways the food can affect his or her health. This might push you into panic mode, making you want to change his or her eating habits overnight. That is not the way to go, as this may cause a strain in your relationship. Instead, start with small steps, adding some fruits or vegetables after meals.
- Start with their favourite food
Changing their meals should be a slow process. Those foods they enjoy more, start from there. Start by switching the ingredients to something healthier and still delicious. When buying unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy, look for healthier alternatives.
- Make healthy food available
This one is a trick of the eyes. Everyone tends to settle for what's easily available, especially teenagers, most of whom don't like to stress themselves. Use that spot where they're used to picking food from as bait. Remove every unhealthy snack there and replace it with healthier ones. At first, they might turn away, but eventually, you will find them reaching for what's quickly available.
- Be their model
Rules are fine and good because they work in some areas but teenagers are more likely to follow examples. As a parent, you will need to show your teenagers a picture of what healthy eating looks like through your personal relationship with healthy food. Don't eat junk food and then turn around to tell your teenagers to eat right. They may not listen. After all, if eating junk food is so bad why are you doing it?
- Teach for the long term
Teaching your teenagers to eat healthily isn't where the job ends. There's more to it. Don't just teach them to eat healthy for the short term because they're not always going to be living with you. Teach them the values of eating healthy. That way they understand why they're doing it and why it is good for them. Consequently, this makes them adopt healthy eating as a lifestyle. Whether they're off to university or anywhere else, they will always eat healthily.
Overall, you'll need to remain calm and patient throughout the process. Your teenagers will definitely eat some junk food while you're trying to help them eat healthily. Unless it becomes a pattern, you can afford to overlook such episodes.