For those that through that creating healthy meals for young children was difficult, unfortunately the worst is yet to come. With younger kids, parents have more control over what they eat, and younger kids can be easily fooled by simply disguising foods like vegetables and making them look and taste more exciting. Plus, in most cases, younger kids don’t have the means or the money to go out and buy fast foods on their own, which means that they will eat what you put on the table.
Teenagers are a whole different kettle of fish. Your teenage kids will be trying to establish some degree of independence, and will most likely be getting some money in the form of pocket money or even a weekend job. In addition to this they will be more easily influenced by peers and more likely to have the means of getting to fast food joints after school or at weekends. All this makes for a bleak outlook when it comes to getting your teenager to stick to healthy meals. Of course, your teenager will want to go to the local pizza place or burger joint with his or her friends at some time or another, but this is all part of the American culture. However, it shouldn’t be a regular occurrence, otherwise your teenage will be living on fast food before you know it.
Another thing that’s worth bearing in mind is that the problems that you have with teenage boys may be very different to those with teenage girls. The boys are the ones most likely to be shovelling burgers down their necks like there’s no tomorrow given half the chance. However, the girls are more likely to take it to the other extreme, refusing to eat anything more than a lettuce leaf for fear of putting on a pound. Of course, not all teenagers are like this, and some parents are lucky enough to have teenagers that will happily eat healthy meals without any complaints.
It is important to remember that teenagers are still developing and therefore require a balanced diet with plenty of nutrition. Their diet should include five servings of fruit or vegetables each day, as well as lean meats, whole grains, and plenty of water. It’s all too easy with the pace of life as it is today to palm your teenagers off with fast food, or give them cash and let them fend for themselves. However, this is something that they’ll not thank you for in the future, and you could be harming their future health. It is important to take time out, particularly with teenagers, and enjoy family meals at a table without the television. This gets the kids into a routine, and can aid their willingness to eat the healthy meals that you prepare.
You should also be very mindful about what you are buying in your grocery shop. If you fill your cupboards with candy bars and potato chips, your teenager will automatically reach for these when he or she wants a snack. If, instead, you stick to fresh fruits and other healthy snacks, your teenager will have little choice but to go for those, enabling him or her to get used to good, healthy food. Make sure that the meals that you cook for your teenager include a lot of variety, as at this age they need to be enjoying a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Snacks should also be varied and healthy.
When it comes to school lunches you have a couple of options. Your teenager can use the school canteen, and over recent years school food has become far healthier, with plenty of low fat options available for kids to choose from. However, if you have any concerns that your child is more likely to end up at the local fast food joint with the lunch money, then opt for a packed lunch. This way, you can pack wholegrain bread and lean meat or salad for the sandwiches, and you can includes some fruit and a low sugar drink.
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