Teenagers consume vast amounts of food. A hungry teenager can consume nearly twice the amount of an adult at a meal, and most of them can eat you out of house and home without so much as gaining a pound. This is an amazing phenomenon I casually call the teenage grub syndrome.
One of the greatest motivators for those of with aging metabolisms and barely youthful figures of the past for not consuming everything that appeals to us is simple weight management. However, whether your teenager is stick this or a little softer around the edges, eating junk food does not properly fuel their bodies and they need to learn how to cut back on the junk food consumption festival they have everyday after school.
Unfortunately, junk food is readily available to teens. School cafeteria’s offer ample food choices and very few of them are healthy. Convenient after school snacks come in the basic junk category and there’s the corner store and vending machines in athletic facilities and parties and friends houses. You get the idea. Junk food is literally everywhere calling out to your kid as a quick and delightful snack.
If your child is simply experiencing a new food freedom (which is common in households where junk food has been banned) it should be fairly easy to reign them back in toward the healthier foods once again. If you instilled good eating habits in him when he was young, they are still there. Sometimes a kid just goes crazy for awhile when they have access to all those yummy temptations they didn’t have around the house as a youngster.
However, if junk food has been a common staple to them since they were little, then it’s going to take more work to get them to eat healthier foods. Sometimes it’s just about laziness and convenience. It’s much easier and tastier to grab a candy bar than it is to throw together a salad. You may have to take on a little parent initiative and put together some small, healthy snacks that are convenient to grab in a hungry hurry.
Unfortunately it can also be a matter of taste. The tasticake section is much more pleasing to the palate than the fruit section, and that fact remains true for most of us. A little educational motivation is on order to assist in the habit changing effort of healthy eating.
If your teenager is living off sugar and other unhealthy snacks, they are guaranteed to be experiencing periods of sudden tiredness throughout the day. Junk food gives a sudden burst of energy and then creates a downfall effect much like that of common street drugs on a much more subtle level. Pointing out these moments to your child is a good way to give him a concrete example of sugar lows. Of course he will probably tell you that he had a hard day and he is tired because he is stressed, which may be partially true. Don’t be discouraged. Eventually he may actually hear you.
This advice is written taking for granted that your child is getting at least one parentally prepared meal every day. Having dinner together at the very least enforces good nutrition, not to mention facilitates communication and a basic togetherness that can not be obtained any other way.
If for some reason the family dinner has fallen by the wayside then it is time to reinvent the sit down dinner. Whether you are a family of two or a family of twelve, the sit down dinner is an essential for issues such as this one as well as other lurking issues. If there is a preventative measure keeping you from the traditional sit down meals together, don’t let him fend for himself. He isn’t making very good food choices and allowing him to continue will only worsen the problem. If you can’t sit down with him, leave him with a reasonable meal you are sure he will eat.
Discussion is important. Talking about nutrition, the effects it has on the body as well as the brain. Teach him which foods contain which vital nutrients and why they are vital for his health. Sometimes awareness works wonders.
Sometimes awareness doesn’t work at all. Discussion is a good communicative mechanism for getting your adolescent to alter his behavior. When discussion fails, limits are next. A teenager’s nutrition is too important to let them win this battle. Teenage girls stop developing bone mass prior to eighteen. They need all the calcium they can get in order to combat osteoporosis and al the calcium depleting hazards waiting for her throughout her life.
Just as you wouldn’t hand your child a cigarette and a bottle of vodka, you wouldn’t ordinarily allow them to hit junk food too heavily either. If for whatever reason your teenager is out of control in regards to his eating habits, it’s too important to stop adjusting until you get the message through and his behavior changes. Food is the fuel that keeps him going. The healthier the fuel the better he can keep on going.