Feeding Your Teenager
Parents can help teens learn to make healthy food choices.
Teen Talk continued...
"Each child is different, but most teens are motivated by having more
energy for school and sports and looking their best," says David Geller,
MD, a pediatrician at Patriot Pediatrics in Bedford, Mass. "I don't
concentrate on their appearance so much as suggest healthier foods to get them
what they want."
Geller recommends spending less time lecturing and more time modeling
behaviors you'd like your teen to emulate, such as eating nutritious meals.
"Adolescents don't always make great choices, but if healthy foods are
on their plates, they tend to eat them," says Geller.
Making time for family meals speaks volumes about what you value as a
parent. Gathering at the table is about more than eating right. A recent study
in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association surveyed more than
900 teens and their parents and concluded that family meals are useful for
enhancing togetherness and communication.
Move It with Your Teen
Many teens are involved in sports, but plenty still do not get the minimum
60 minutes of daily physical activity that experts recommend.Â Physical
activity fosters endurance and muscle strength; builds strong bones and joints;
and promotes well-being.
Moving around also helps maintain a healthy weight. One study found a lack
of vigorous exercise was the primary cause for obesity in children aged 11
Helping your child with weight control now can mean better health in
"There is a very good chance that an overweight teen will become an
overweight adult," Geller says.
If your teen tends to be sedentary, choose an activity to do together, such
as walking, biking, in-line skating, or tennis. Working out with kids keeps
them healthy in more ways than you can imagine. Recent research in the journal
Pediatrics revealed that teens who participated in physical activities
with parental involvement were less likely to have low self-esteem and engage
Hungry teens have a hard time holding off for the next meal. Done right,
snacking can provide the nutrients your son or daughter needs. These healthy
snacks also double as quick breakfasts:
- Whole grain bagel spread with peanut butter and topped with raisins;
- Leftover pizza; 100% orange juice
- 8 ounces low-fat fruited yogurt; whole grain toast; 100% juice
- Fruit and yogurt smoothie; whole grain toast
- Hard-boiled eggs; whole grain roll; fruit
- Waffle sandwich (two whole grain toasted waffles spread with almond,
peanut, or soy nut butters); milk
- Trail mix made from low-sugar cereal, dried fruit, chopped nuts or roasted
soybeans, and mini chocolate chips
- Sandwiches on whole grain bread
- Hummus or peanut butter and whole grain crackers
- Bowl of whole grain cereal; fruit; low-fat milk
- Vegetables and low-fat yogurt dip
- Reduced-fat mozzarella cheese sticks and low-fat crackers
- Low-fat microwave popcorn topped with grated Parmesan cheese; 100%
- Yogurt with whole grain cereal mixed in
- Low-fat cottage cheese and whole grain crackers or whole grain toast
- Nuts; 100% juice.