As a parent of teenage sons, I can honestly say its like learning to be a parent all over again. A ripe and tender age where teenagers start to test the boundaries a little more & may be more open to voice their own opinion & ideas. It can be a very trying time for both parents & teenagers alike. They are under a lot of peer pressure & heavily influenced by what their friends are doing/eating/watching. It is up to us as parents to educate them from a young age so they are more equipped to make better choices. But what if you’ve just discovered the path to health and wellness and this is new for you and your teen (s)?
Lets start with ensuring they’ve got a wide variety of foods/snacks at home so they can snack on, rather than wasting money on empty calories out of home.
Keep the cupboard stocked with only clean, whole foods and have plenty of good protein and fats for all those hormonal changes our teens are going through. Food affects your mood, so if your teen seems really moody, what have they eaten (and most often the case – not eaten) today? Look at lunch boxes to see if they’ve eaten. Many teens skip meals, eat empty calories, fast food, fried foods and sugary caffeinated drinks which is leading to overweight, overtired, sick teenagers! We also have many teens that have body image issues which is also fed by many forms of media and the “ideas” of how a young person needs to look to fit in the world today.
If you don’t have any processed, non-foods at home, they cannot have them. For snacks, try baking a nut bread, or banana bread that has lots of eggs, pate, cheese and crackers, hummus and corn chips, salsa & veggies plus these protein balls are a nice sweet treat option (courtesy of Wholefood Simply) Bliss Balls. Teach your teens how to cook so they can be self sufficient later on!
As teens venture out on their own and with there peers, the will no doubt be buying the sugary, calorie poor, non-foods and having or participating in what everyone else is doing. If you’ve educated your child on the reasons why these foods are bad for them they will have a better foundation as to what is right and wrong for them. Its certainly a phase of trial and error. Educate them on how foods affect their skin. This is a time when oil production is increased due to hormone release. When we see our teens faces, some of them do not have the smooth flawless baby skin they used to and maybe filled with pimples and blackheads. Whatever you put in your system, will come out somehow. The appearance of your skin is an indication to what is happening on the inside.
We always recommend you try & achieve an 80/20 ratio i.e. if you are eating a clean, whole food diet (organic where possible) 80% of the time, that is a great place to start.
Feeding Your Teenager
Sometimes feeding a teenager can seem like an endless task, therefore it is so important to be feeding them the right foods to keep them sustained & to prevent them reaching for the sugary, processed rubbish, especially if they are also playing a lot of sport.
Balanced proteins, good fats & carbohydrates remain priority, especially in the mornings. Avoid cereals & things like “Up & Go”. Send them to school with a good, hearty breakfast inside them, so they can concentrate, be focused at school & learn. We suggest: bacon & eggs, poached eggs on rye; grilled tomatoes & nitrate free bacon; omelette; avocado & tuna on sourdough/rye, frittatas, smoothies or buckwheat pancakes with bacon & maple syrup Click here for Breakfast Recipes.
There is a huge amount of hormonal change occurring at this time, as well as bone & brain development. Try to avoid giving them money for the school canteen as inevitably the choice & quality will be poor & they will be hungry again within half an hour. Pack them or teach them how and what to pack for lunch.
Invest in some stainless steel flasks & lunch boxes (which can be sourced locally at Mona Vale Wholefoods Store), their food will stay warm, so you can send them with soups, bolognese, broths, sausages, snitzels, rissoles, lamb chops, cold meats & salads/veggies, meatloaf, nuts & seeds, fruits – dried or fresh, crackers, cheeses.
Sit down at meal times as a family, include them, talk & laugh, they may want to go off & get on their devices but they still need boundaries, to learn life skills & they still need guidance from us, their parents.
Let your teenager sleep in at the weekend, they really do need that time to rest & recover.
Water is all we need – encourage your teenager to drink clean, filtered water not sugary sodas/fizzy drinks/sports drinks. They should be drinking 0.033 x body weight in kg = litres per day required to remain fully hydrated.
Limit screen time, especially if your teenager is not playing sport/active regularly. Take them out in nature, encourage them to go to the beach, for a bush walk, so they are getting their daily quota of vitamin D (20 minutes per day without sunscreen, avoiding times when the sun is at its strongest).