If your child has suddenly become a teenager, than you may have noticed a marked deterioration in their eating habits. This is not uncommon as many young adults, wanting to follow the latest trends and fit in with their friends, eat foods that are high in fats and sugars and are of poor nutritional value. Although you may have lost some control of what they eat when they are not within your sight, you can at least ensure that the meals eaten at home are both appetizing and of high nutritional value.
Eat breakfast with your children
Start the day together. Nutritionists say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so begin with protein for brain power such as an egg on toast or small piece of steak or turkey pattie and egg. And why not add a nutritious slice of tomato for color and flavor.
Try a small amount of carbohydrate - 1/2 a cup in a small bowl of hot oatmeal with grated apple and cinnamon for flavor and sustained energy release. Teens love sweet foods, so the apple provides that added sweetness plus the fiber and vitamins that roll ups just don't provide.
If you keep the portions small they can enjoy all of these foods in one meal, and they will have sustained energy to keep up to the demands of growing active bodies.
Prepare breakfast together, eat together, discuss the day ahead together and discuss lunches - what goes in to the lunch box and what stays out!
Plan lunches with your teens
Lunch is where many teens fall into the junk food empty kilojoules trap. Talk to your teen about whole foods, whole carrots and beans and celery instead of sugary buns and pre-packaged muesli bars.
Encourage your teens to eat real fruit instead of fruit juice and candy foods. Fruit juice is a sugar trap. It takes 3 oranges to make a small glass of juice, and that's fine if you normally sit down to 3 oranges and then run around the block to use up all the sugar they contain. But unless your teens are playing sport or walking great distances then steer away from juices and encourage them to drink water instead. Advise them that their bodies are made of water not juice. Dilute the juice to flavored water and make your own ensuring goodness.
Leftovers or 'meal-overs', are another way to encourage teens to try new things, not just last nights roast beef in a sandwich, but curries which are always better the next day, and hearty soups with crusty bread rolls. A thermos flask for food is a wonderful addition to the lunch box especially in winter.
What are you having for dinner?
Discuss with your teen at breakfast what you will be having for dinner that night. This allows them to provide some input into the upcoming meal - will we eat Mexican, Chinese, Turkish, Italian, Indian, Japanese, or just have baked beans on toast?
It really isn't too daunting once you start. A family that plans meals together, eats well and shares their favorite tastes is on the right track for experimenting with flavors and making food interesting rather than resorting to packaged foods that are high in sugar, fat, salt, and additive options.
Starting their interest in good food when they are young leads to healthy kids becoming healthy adults.