It’s a struggle to get teenagers to eat their fruits and veggies!
Peers, time constraints, and more access to unhealthy food choices are a few of the reasons teenagers do not eat enough fruits and veggies!
If you thought getting your school-aged children to eat their vegetables was hard, many parents find it more difficult with teenagers. Not only is it a struggle to gather your teenagers for a nutritious family meal, peer and media influences, busy social and sports schedules, and increased access to unhealthy food choices make it even more difficult for parents to make sure their actively growing teenagers are getting the nutrients they need!
The easiest thing you can do? Make fruits and veggies available to your kids! Research has shown that availability in the home has been associated with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, especially in children and adolescents. While at times it can be frustrating, remember to lead by example, be patient, and always have fruits and veggies available!
Top 10 things parents can do now to aide in their teenager’s development of healthy eating habits:
- Ask teens to help plan meals, shop for groceries, cook, and bake. These activities get teens thinking about a balanced diet. See Other Ways Kids Can Help
- Eat at least 3 or 4 meals together as a family each week. A family breakfast or weekend lunch may be most practical for some busy families.
- Stress healthy teeth and bones. Teens are concerned about their teeth and bones since many are active in sports. Educate them on calcium-rich vegetables!
- Bring healthy foods home. Buy fewer foods that are high in fat and sugar and more fruits and vegetables.
- Focus on healthy minds. Explain how a healthy diet leads to a healthy mind.
- Keep a variety of fruits and vegetables (in all forms) in plain view. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the table. Cut up favorite vegetables and store them. Keep dried and canned fruit in the ‘snack drawer.’ Making fruits and veggies readily available can increase consumption by 104%.
- Be a good role model. Children adopt the eating habits of their parents.
- Encourage teens to eat breakfast. Pair fresh fruit with dry cereal, low-fat yogurt, or a low-fat granola bar for a quick and healthy breakfast.
- Help teens build a positive body image. Make positive comments about your teen’s weight and shape and avoid criticizing your own body. Kids and Body Image
- Focus on Sports. For your active teen, explain how fruits and veggies can give them the extra boost of energy they need to make it through practice, or to finish strong in the game! See Ideas