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Feeding Your Teenager

Parents can help teens learn to make healthy food choices.

Pick Your Battles

The house is stocked with healthy foods. You're home most nights for dinner. You talk with your teen about skipping soda in favor of low-fat milk, and choosing grilled chicken sandwiches instead of fried at the fast-food restaurant. You even bought inline skates so you can bond with your teen while working out. Still, his eating and exercising is less than exemplary. What should you do?

Back off, for starters.

"Avoid power struggles over food," says Sonneville. Strict control over what a child eats can backfire. "Your teen may respond by over- or under-eating just to assert his independence," she says.

"Teens know they shouldn't drink soda or eat fries. They also know they shouldn't smoke or drive fast -- but they do," Geller says. "That's the nature of the beast."

Still, there's hope, especially when your own lifestyle is on the right track.

"I like to look at it this way: By educating them and providing healthy foods, you're giving teens the skills to use now or at a later date," Geller says. "As a parent, that's about as much as you can do."

Reviewed on December 17, 2008

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