Eating Healthy for Teens
Please welcome my guest author Jocelyn Anne! She has great tips on healthy eating for Teens and really, families with kids of any age. I find that I need constant reminders to keep my house full of the good stuff. It’s an ongoing battle especially if my kids accompany me to the grocery store. Thanks Jocelyn Anne! It’s great to take advantage of the bounty of summer too!
With the arrival of summer comes a definite, new-found sense of freedom. Suddenly schedules matter less, patterns, routines, chores, and structure all take a little hike for a few months and sadly, our dedication to eating in terms of healthy, balanced meals with snacks throughout the day becomes somewhat laughable. We eat dinner at all hours of the night, plan days around massive barbecues and start drooling over new ice-cream pies and spectacular cakes piled high with whipped topping and sparkling juicy strawberries.
The end result? When it comes to our teens, summer has a tendency to make their eating habits look a lot like a strict diet of soda, Doritos, burgers and heaping mounds of potato salads and candy bars. So how do we deal with a lack of structure and still ensure that our teens are eating properly? Planning. Lots of planning. Here’s what you need to remember (and this is so easy you’ll love it): teens will eat what’s readily available. If there is nothing readily available like leftover stir fry or salad or the fridge becomes barren of it’s usual stockpile of yogurt and string cheese and fresh fruit (because you’re busy with your summer life, it happens), they’re going to go to what is readily available. And that’s probably all going to come straight out of the freezer or the pantry, which usually boils down to highly processed, high caloric, low nutritional valued foods.
The good news is that “readily available” doesn’t have to mean massive amounts of work for you, it just means anything that you deem to be nutritionally valuable for your children is available. Take the time out of your busy schedule to keep the refrigerator stocked with super quick, easy, healthy grabs. Plan ahead your own frozen options (pizza pockets not included). It’s actually much simpler than you might think. So, let’s cover some of the easiest stuff out there.
General Fridge Stocking
Yogurt. Cheese (sliced cheese, cottage cheese, string cheese). Sliced turkey. Grilled chicken breasts. Fruit (sliced, peeled, etc.) It needs to be in a form your teens will eat. As in: they can open the fridge, grab it, and put it in their mouth that instant. If you know they won’t eat an apple unless it’s peeled and sliced, then buying apples and leaving them in the fridge untouched does you nothing other than waste your money). Veggies (also sliced and peeled): baby carrots, celery slices, tomato and cucumber wedges, etc. Salad: slice up tomatoes, carrots, olives and cucumbers and toss in Italian dressing. Teens (especially teen girls) love it and it doesn’t wilt or get soggy. Serve with whole wheat Triscuits and sliced cheese.
Make large batches of homemade baked honey almond granola that your teens can use for a quick breakfast and not have to grab cocoa puffs or Eggo waffles. You can also make your own homemade whole wheat blueberry waffles and freeze them. Pre-made breakfast burritos (eggs, potatoes, cheese, salsa, etc. all wrapped in a wholegrain tortilla) are fantastic and cut the sugar intake. They freeze very well also.
Soups. You might think they’re not summer appropriate but they actually do make great afternoon snacks and even summer lunches, especially when paired with a quick sandwich. Pretzels, baked cheese puffs, baked crackers, tuna fish, whole grain breads, almond butter, pure fruit jams and jellies (teens are remarkably handy at making peanut butter sandwiches for themselves and sometimes even their younger siblings). Oatmeal. Best if you buy steel cut oats and make it ahead of time so all they have to do is pull out a container and warm it up, but there are now plain instant packets available. (Skip the sugar saturated Peaches & Cream).
Usually dinners become grab and go, much like lunch, especially when sporting events are calling the name. This can mean less prep work for you if you want to roll with it. Keep some protein shakes available, along with some quick and easy protein meal bars, but make sure they actually have protein and fiber and aren’t just fancy packaged candy bars. Having baked chicken, salmon, and turkey burgers in the fridge makes for a quick way to grab protein. Paired with some crisp veggies and a spoon full of whole grain pasta that’s pre-cooked makes a super nutritious and fast meal that any teen can grab and go with.
Finally: this is important! By the same token that they will likely eat what you make readily available to them, they will be highly unlikely to eat what you do not make readily available to them. If you don’t stock the pantry with soda and chips or the freezer with microwave pizzas and frozen, pre-packaged, overly processed junk, they’re probably not going to be eating it.
Enjoy the summer, enjoy the array of fresh fruits and veggies and enjoy a break from routine because it only lasts so long!
Freelancer Jocelyn Anne loves to help families enjoy food in new and healthy ways. If she can cut the cost, sugar and fat without sacrificing flavor, you can bet she’ll find a way! At the moment she’s all about finding affordable ice cream makers for the family and putting ice cream buying days behind.