One nagging issue bugging many teenagers is how to start eating healthy. For teens, life is full of issues and pressures that you have to maneuver through on your own. It is important to get that A on the exam, make weight for a wrestling match or fit into the ideal dress for homecoming. Your teen years are one of the most demanding times in your life. This also the time you are setting the course for the rest of your life. Learning healthy eating strategies is important because it will influence the rest of your life.
Problems with Food
Few can deny the fact that teens are not eating properly. This statement should not come as a surprise as it is covered in numerous ways in many media channels. Many adolescents are overweight. Communities come together to ban vending machines in schools and encourage the sale of more nutritious options in lunch lines. You don't need the media to tell you what is happening in high school, you and your friends are living it. What you may not realize is the fatigue, the stress you feel, the depression issues amongst teens as well as the inability to focus can all be food related.
How to Start Eating Healthy for Teens
Eating Healthy Starts with Breakfast
What society needs to focus on is teaching adolescents how to start eating healthy. For teens, this means more quick, convenient, grab-and-go food that is going to satisfy your craving and nourish your body. While grabbing breakfast in the morning is often difficult, it is important that the day starts with breakfast. Even if it is something little such as:
- Bagel with peanut butter
- Banana, apple or orange
- Fruit smoothie
Breakfast is one meal that everyone should be eating but especially teenagers, especially when lunch is often skipped and the only meal you will eat is dinner.
Ensure You Get the Proper Nutrients
Healthy eating is a struggle for most people, mainly because they don't know what they should be eating and how to get the nutrients they need. Many parents are concerned with the way their teen eats and they want to teach them proper eating habits but wonder how. To start eating healthy for teens means to know what the body requires to help them achieve all they want in a day. This means protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to rev the body up and protect their health.
- Proteins - Foods such as eggs, cheese, chicken, fish, turkey, beans, nuts and soy products are essential for healthy muscles, hair, skin, eyes and nails. Including a little bit of protein at each meal will also help you maintain weight and feel fuller longer, which means the Snicker bar in the vending machine will not be calling your name during 4th period.
- Fats - Good fats are also essential. These include Omega 3s and Omega 6; both of have a direct link to ADHD, dyslexia and depression. If your teen is struggling with maintaining focus, they may be deficient in the Omegas. There are supplements that teens can take or they can snack on pumpkin seeds, walnuts, or avocados. Also, make sure that you cook with olive oil or canola oil. Offering tuna or salmon sandwiches can help boost the Omegas.
- Carbohydrates - These are the most misunderstood nutrients for teens and adults alike. Simple carbohydrates such as table sugar offer a quick boost in energy. They give you the spike you need to get through your last two classes or stay up studying for an exam. What you need to be including more of are complex carbohydrates, which help maintain healthy muscles, your nervous system and your internal organs. The carbohydrates you need to be reaching for include fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and beans. This will help maintain a more consistent blood sugar level in the body, which will help stabilize your energy levels, fit into that prom dress and allow you to feel more alert through the day.
- Water - H20 is the fourth nutrient that should also be included in a healthy eating plan for teens. Filling a water bottle at home or buying bottled water at the store is a great way for teens to stay hydrated on the go. While the occasional Coke or Pepsi is okay, making sure you are drinking plenty of water. You will feel better and stay more focused.
Quick on the Go and Healthy
A great way to learn how to start eating healthy is to prepare food in advance for that easy grab-and-go convenience.
- Fresh fruits and veggies such as baby carrots and apple slices
- Cheese slices such as cheddar, Swiss or Gouda to make nice mouth mix with the apples
- Homemade trail mix of walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds and raisins are quick foods to munch in between classes.
Pack lunch the night before. Water, a pear and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will provides a meal to eat quickly but it also gives the complex carbohydrates and protein and good fats you need.
The life of a teen is demanding and stressful. To help combat stress, improve alertness and increase energy levels it is important to make healthy food choices. Eating healthy doesn't have to be burdensome. Planning ahead and including fast healthy foods such as homemade trail mix, apple slices and even a PB&J sandwich can help you get through the day, from the first class you have all the way through practice.
- Initial Author: Jennifer Shakeel