7 Tips To Help Your Teen Eat Well


How Can I Help My Teen Have A Healthy Relationship With Food?


There is so much in the media about diet and body image, and teenage girls are constantly bombarded with images of unhealthy and underweight models they aspire to look like. On the flipside, child and adolescent obesity is also becoming more of a concern. The difficult task of approaching a healthy diet means navigating the middle ground between under and over eating in a way that promotes healthy growth, development and attitudes.

Below are some tips for helping your teen to have a healthy approach to diet and exercise.

Tip #1: Encourage Regular Meals

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods and eat everything in moderation. Teens often skip breakfast but it’s an important meal – it kick starts metabolism and provides a source of energy for the morning. So your teen has enough energy for the day, encourage them to eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day.

Tip #2: Be A Role Model

As a parent, you are the biggest and most important influence to get your teenager eating well. If you’re a good role model, your teenager is much more likely to eat well. Don’t expect to influence your children’s eating habits if you tell them to eat their vegetables while you hardly eat them yourself.

Tip #3: Don’t Judge Food

Avoid labeling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Where you need to, differentiate between foods that provide a good source of energy for the body and foods that provide only a quick burst of energy for the body. Separate your teenagers’ food choices, weight or eating behaviour from who they are as a person.

Tip #4: Encourage Good Food Choices

Make lower-calorie, higher nutritional choices. Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruit. Eat plenty of cereals, preferably wholegrain. Include lean meat, fish, poultry and dairy. Choose water as a drink. Limit saturated fat and moderate fat intake, choose foods low in salt. Consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars.

Tip #5: Encourage Exercise

Modern technology has made teens less active. Encourage your teen to get involved in sport or exercise. Regular exercise won’t just help to keep your teen at a healthy weight, it will also help them to manage stress and improve their sleep.

Tip #6: Discourage Diets

Don’t encourage your child to go on extreme diets – it may affect their growth and create health issues in the long run. Cutting out major food groups such as carbohydrates and good fats will also have a negative effect on your teens physical and emotional development.

Tip #7: Eat as a Family

Teenagers who grow up in families that regularly eat together have better nutrition. Aim to have a meal as a family at least once a day.

Amanda Hale is a registered psychologist and a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) Candidate at the Australian National University. She enjoys working with children, adolescents and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, eating disorders, behavioural problems and interpersonal and adjustment difficulties.