One HUGE thing that we need to remember with teenagers: Their BIGGEST fear is being made fun of and ostracized by their peers!
If they start trying to eat different from their friends, turning down junk food, etc., it is likely that their friends will make some jokes and they will immediately give in to social pressures.
Start with basic information:
What are proteins, carbs, and fats?
Protein: Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Eggs, Dairy. These foods provide lasting energy, build and repair your tissues and are used as enzymes to facilitate body reactions.
Carb: All vegetables! All Fruits! Potatoes, Rice, Oats and Grains. (Limit intake of grains, especially wheat to a minimum or none at all. Yes, gluten is not good for you) These foods provide quick burning energy, facilitate fat metabolism and prevent protein breakdown.
Fat: Nuts, Seeds, Butters and Oils. These foods provide long slow burning energy, absorb vitamins, regulate body temperature, provide essential fatty acids.
A 'meal' must have protein, and 3 'meals' a day is important.
One of the most important nutrient factors, especially for young growing teenagers is an adequate amount of protein to ensure proper muscular and skeletal development.
Always aim to eat foods that provide nutrients as much as possible.
Think of your proteins, carbs and fats as the bricks in a wall. Think of your vitamins and minerals as the mortar which holds everything together. With no vitamins, you can't build a very strong or healthy human being. You may build it big but not strong and healthy. With no proteins, carbs and fats, you can't build much of anything!
To try and get as much nutrients as possible, look to have as much colour in your food as possible. And NO, that does not mean sprinkles on a donut or a Unicorn Frappucino...
One of the most critical:
Food is directly tied to how you feel and your energy levels.
If you get a stomach ache, a headache, have skin issues, have mood issues... the first thing you should do is think about what you ate before. Or in some cases, what you didn't eat. Sometimes an issue with growing teenagers is they just aren't eating enough of the right foods.
After these lessons have been learned, you can start layering in some habits.
I've had success with having the kids get into the habit of preparing a good breakfast. A good breakfast means high in protein (30g or more) and sufficient carbs. A bowl of cereal is NOT a good choice. A good example being; 2-3 Eggs, 2-3oz of meat, 1/2 cup dry oatmeal (NO sugar added. I use unsweetened applesauce, vanilla extract and cinnamon, then topped with 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries)
Lunches are always a bit of a tough spot as it needs to be something they can take to school and likely eat without re-heating. This should be very high in protein to offset any 'bad' foods they may consume with their friends or when they don't have any other options.
Another great option for easy on the go snacks to keep you teenager fuelled are some homemade protein-energy bites! Here are a couple of my favourite recipes and they are SUPER easy to make ahead and keep in the fridge or even freezer for a healthy snack.
As always, I am here to help and answer any questions you may have regarding health, fitness and nutrition both for your teenager and yourself!