Are you frustrated with your teen’s unhealthy snacking habits? Many teens eat snacks with little nutrition, eat too many snacks or eat too much of the same types of snack. Then when it is meal time, they aren’t hungry, or if left to their own devices, continue to make unhealthy meal choices. These unhealthy snacking pattern are blocking your teen from eating a well balanced, healthy diet, so your teen is eating, but they are not being properly nourished.
You don’t want to be the food police, but you also don’t want your teen to continue with their unhealthy snacking practice. Fortunately, I have five great tips to get your teen back on track and eating healthier snacks.
#1 Create a Goal
Ideally, if your teen divides a plate into four sections, half the plate should be filled with vegetables, one quarter of the plate should be filled with protein and one quarter should be filled with carbohydrates. (Here is a visual representation and portion size guide that can be very helpful when explaining this concept to your teen) Most teens do just fine with protein and carbohydrates, but they fall quite shy of an ideal vegetable intake. While I think you are going to be hard pressed to get most teens to eat that many vegetables, by understanding the goal, most are willing to put more of an effort to get a bit closer. Once they start eating balanced meals, they won’t feel as hungry for those snacks
#2 Find a Hook
Once your teen understands the goal, it is helpful to explain how it will benefit them specifically. For example, if your teen is overweight, you can explain how vegetables are high in nutrition and fiber and low in calories. Vegetables make you feel full which helps you eat less of the more calorie dense foods. If your teen struggles with focus, you can explain how eating balanced meals, will keep their blood sugar stable which will make it easier to pay attention and stay on task.
#3 Hazards of Processed Food
While it is unrealistic that teens will eat no processed foods, if they understand why living on processed snack food is so unhealthy, it can motivate them to eat less.
- High in Sugar
- Made to Be Addictive
- Low in Fiber
- High in Unhealthy Fats
- Low in Nutrients
- Made of Refined Carbohydrates
These six qualities of most processed snack foods make them poor choices because they put stress on the immune system and are hard to digest making it challenging for a teen’s body to grow and remain strong and healthy.
#4 Upgrade Snack Quality
Companies try their hardest to make processed food seem healthy. While it is always best to eat real food, sometimes you need the convenience of snacks. It is a great idea to teach your teen how to pick out healthier snacks.
- Less Than Five Ingredients is Ideal
- Ingredients Are Recognizable by Name
- No High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Non GMO
- Healthy Fats (coconut, avocado, and olive oil, grass fed butter)
#5 Limit Snacks
In order to ensure that your teen isn’t just eating snacks all day long, add one or both of the healthier snacking habits below.
- Limit the Quantity: You and your teen should agree on a realistic goal for the number of servings per day. This will be depend on age, activity level and whether or not they are growing. (Be sure your teen knows what a serving size of their favorite snack looks like.)
- Time of Day: You can also set times when snacks can and cannot be consumed. Perhaps no snacks before 3:00 PM or no snacks after 10:00 PM could work.
While these five healthier snacking habits are great way to help your teen improve their nutrition, sometimes eating snacks is a teen’s way of soothing their stress, and they get caught in The Chronic Stress Loop. If this is the case, then no amount of encouragement will help your teen create a healthier snacking habit until they find a new way to destress. If this sounds like your teen, grab a copy of my Free Stress Less Guide here, and start helping your teen break free from The Chronic Stress Loop today, so they can be healthy and happy in school and beyond.
Originally published at www.claireketchum.com