Is your teenager slowly transforming into a junk food junkie? It’s a real threat to their health — and your sanity. At the very stage they need it most, they opt for junk instead of nutritious foods! The struggle is real.
Nutrition affects the 4 As: athletics, academics, attitude, and appearance. Majorly important to teenagers — and they need to know it. Inflammatory junk foods such as fast food, sodas, potato chips, sweets, etc., cause seriously negative effects.
Junk Food Consequences
- Low energy, sluggishness.
- Inability to focus/concentrate/ADHD (largely affected by artificial dyes and lack of good fats and proteins.)
- Allergies! (Check out The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien. Infuriating!)
- Mood swings, anxiety, anger, hormones. (Food can be a big factor in managing mood.)
- Weight gain or risk of obesity.
A change is needed! It’s a lot to take in. But if we can help them adopt a few good habits, we keep them thriving, healthy and happy — straight into adulthood.
I don’t suggest coming in full swing with kale chips and sprouted quinoa burgers. Start slowly. Remember it’s never too late to end junk food habits; but it does start with you.
5 Tips for Feeding Teens
- MODEL GOOD NUTRITION. Practice what you preach. Show your teens how to make healthier choices — like by having grab-and-go options always available — so they learn the connection between good food and good health. It may be hard, but modeling behavior is part of our job as parents.
- MAKE IT RELEVANT. For this to sink in, the nutritional message has to mean something to them. Be specific. Tell them how food affects their growth, their looks, their feelings, their academic and sports performance, or whatever seems to be the most important to the teen during that particular week. Tell your child that eating lots more green leafy vegetables and less dairy or sugar will eliminate breakouts, or skipping the french fries and milkshake might make for a better basketball game.
- EAT MORE QUALITY PROTEIN — at every meal.The growing teenage brain and body need protein. Protein gives the body the building blocks it needs to repair and renew, and it also serves as a source of energy and keeps them from craving sweets. Try wild fish, organic chicken, grass-fed beef. Nut butters are also good sources of protein — just make sure they are all natural and not loaded with sugars.
- CLEAN OUT THE PANTRY. Start out small with foods containing with artificial colors (banned in Europe) and sweeteners immediately. Artificial sweeteners are known to cause 93 unsavory side effects including brain tumors. Food colorings are known to cause tumors, ADHD, allergies, and lots of other problems. Even replacing superbad junk with organic, non-GMO junk is a non-toxic step in the right direction. But be thorough. Even the most unsuspecting of foods, like bread or tortillas, can have more chemicals in them than you can count — much less pronounce — so read the labels.
- EAT BREAKFAST — the most important meal of the day. This is so true for kids when it comes to brain development, daily energy levels, and ability to focus. Think protein-rich eggs, low-sugar smoothies, oatmeal, breakfast tacos. Fruit Loops are not an option. Sugary cereals and drinks have no place at breakfast — they give brains nothing to function with — and the accompanying sugar spike and drop makes kids cranky. Special note: Breakfast may be your only chance of the day to influence their choices. It also can be a great way to spend a moment with your kids — that you otherwise might not have!
Ultimately, good nutrition comes down to a lifestyle, not a week or so of regimented consumption (returning straight to their favorite junk foods). Armed with an understanding of this, teens can start making informed choices that will support them for the rest of their lives. Thoughts? Questions? Leave a comment!