Food is the fuel for our bodies, providing the nutrients and energy we need. But food is more than just fuel; when we eat properly and have good nutrition, it can positively affect our well-being in many ways. As important as nutrition is for adults, it is absolutely critical for your teenager. As your teens come down from their candy highs this post-Halloween, and we head into a holiday season filled with more and more tasty temptations, you can help offset the season's nutritious downfalls by making sure you have healthy choices in the house.
Studies have shown that proper nutrition and regular eating habits, while important for everyone, is a very important factor during the emotional and physical development of teens. Teens experience a dramatic growth spurt that requires significant increases in nutrients. Teens often need more than the typical number of calories each day – but it is important to make sure that the calories they are consuming are contributing to their health.
Your teen should be gaining a decent understanding about making healthy choices. You should be teaching them the basics of nutritional requirements. While it is OK to have treats, the majority of the foods you have in the home for your teen to choose from should be healthy whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and plenty of dairy.
Improving your teen's eating habits can positively impact your teen's grades, behavior, emotions, sleep patterns, and energy levels. One of the most important things you can teach your teen about nutrition is balance. Balance is important because even too much of a good thing can be bad for you. And, if you really want your teen to get the right message, then the best lessons you can teach about nutrition are the lessons you teach by example.
As a parent, you need to have a careful balance in your approach to your teen's eating. Over-obsessing about what your teen eats or how many calories he or she is consuming can backfire and cause self-esteem issues and make your teen self-conscious. Letting your teen eat undisciplined, munching on bags of potato chips and unlimited junk can set bad habits that last for life.
When you start paying attention to the foods you buy and the meals you make, and start paying more attention to your own habits, you can start creating a healthy nutritional environment for your teen. Sit down for a family meal in the evening. Take the time to pack healthy lunches for your teens to take to school. Make sure you keep a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables in the house. Switch to whole grain bread and nonfat milk.
Even these minor changes in the choices available at home can have a huge impact on the level of nutrition your teen is receiving. Remember, the healthy nutrition practices your teen learns now will see him or her through life. And since our metabolic rate slows considerably as we age, you can truly be giving your teen the gift of health.