Guest post by Julie Pullman from Rise Wellness Coaching
As parents we know that unhealthy eating habits such as overeating, eating excessive amounts of junk food, or restricted eating can negatively impact our teenagers’ health and wellbeing, now and in the future. So as our teens begin having more independence and freedom and they begin making their own food choices, how can we as parents encourage them to make healthy selections in and out of the home?
Here are six tips to help get your teen eating healthy!
1. Set personal wellness goals with your teen
All teenagers like to feel like they are in control. So, instead of forcing your teen to change, help them to feel like it is their choice. You can assist them with this by encouraging them to develop their own wellness goals. I like to establish LEARN Goals with all of my teen clients:
Have your teen choose one goal in each category that they want to work towards. Once these goals are set, print them up and have your teen post them somewhere they will see regularly. Check-in with your teen weekly (without nagging) to see how they are doing on the goals they set. Ask them what you can do to help them achieve these goals?
2. Get them involved
Your teen may be more open to eating healthy if they are involved in the decision-making process and the preparation of meals. The sense of pride from preparing a meal may make it more likely that your teen will want to eat it and feel empowered about the change.
3. Create a healthy food environment
If you have a healthy food environment in your family, it makes it easier for your teen to make better choices.
- Limit unhealthy food options but don’t forbid them altogether. There should be no ‘bad’ food or food that is off-limits unless there is a food allergy. Food restrictions can counter-intuitively fuel the desire for off-limits food and result in more craving, binging, and/or shame.
- Provide a variety of healthy options for your teen. Put those choices in the front of the pantry and fridge in clear containers so that’s the first thing your teen sees. For example, keep cut-up fresh fruit and veggies in the fridge in plain sight so it’s easy for them to grab and go.
4. Be a positive role model
Show your teen that healthy eating is important to you. You can do this by choosing healthy food options when you’re eating in and away from home, eating breakfast regularly, and buying healthy options when food shopping.
Making time to eat as a family is another great way to model healthy habits and increase your teen’s interest in healthy food and nutrition. It’s also a good way to spend family time together catching.
5. Teach your teen that food is fuel
Healthy foods are the best fuel to power our body and brain. Help your teen understand that their bodies need the energy to function and grow, and calories from food and drinks are what give them that energy to do the things they love.
6. Help your teen practice intuitive eating principles
Eating intuitively is about reconnecting with what our bodies and minds already know how to do. It is the process of tuning into your body’s cues for hunger, fullness, and what you want to eat at that moment. Aiding your teen in understanding this principle will help them develop healthy eating habits throughout their life.