"For each of us there is some mission in life if we but find it. All have some definite thing to do, something for which they have been created; and only the doing of this thing will justify their existence here on earth. If we come into the world and occupy space and time without giving back for this privilege, we have not justified ourselves, and our lives in the end are barren." ~ Hay

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How to Teach your Teenager to Eat Healthy - Plan A

Look what I found in the basement!!! 

This stuff is pure poison!  I don’t even advocate eating this type of candy in moderation.  My son ate this.  He is 17 and, as you can probably already surmise, doesn’t listen to me.  I can honestly tell you, I don’t EVER buy this stuff or keep it in the house.  I am constantly speaking to my kids about the dangers of ingredients found in these types of candies, such as artificial colors/flavors and food dyes.  My son’s response was, “I don’t do this often so lighten up.”  It is very difficult to teach most teenagers how to eat healthy.  It makes a huge difference when you start….
The easiest way to teach your children to eat healthy is to start when they are young.  I’m going to define “young” as under the age of 12.  It is very important to give your children healthy foods along with an explanation of their importance.  It also helps if both parents are on board together and consistent.  When you give your child “brown” bread instead of “white” bread, you should explain that wheat bread is healthy and contains essential vitamins and minerals necessary for growth and development.  Not in those exact words, of course, but in a language they can understand.   It is also important to find creative ways for them to eat healthy foods.  For instance, using the bread example, you can use a cookie cutter and cut out shapes they will like such as a dinosaur or heart.  I cannot stand the idea of hiding a healthy food in an unhealthy food….such as hiding spinach in a brownie!  Who came up with that dumb idea?  That totally defeats the purpose!  You don’t want your child associating a brownie with health.  The child needs to recognize spinach, develop a taste for spinach and get used to the texture of spinach.  The child needs to understand if you eat spinach you will grow big and strong…like Popeye.  YOU NEVER HIDE SPINACH IN A BROWNIE!   Deep breath….Okay, I’m calmer now..lol.
If your kids are over 12 years old and you try to introduce healthy foods to them, it will be much harder for you to get them to eat it, especially if they are used to nothing but chicken nuggets and french fries.  Their taste buds may be so used to unhealthy foods that even if they do try it, they will probably spit it right out.  So how do you get a teenager away from bad foods and to eat more healthy foods?  First, you need to pay attention to what bad foods your kids are eating.  Are they eating too many salty snacks? …Too many sweets? …Too much soda?   Why do you need to pay attention, you ask?  It’s because your child may be missing important key nutrients.  Food cravings are your body’s way of telling you that you are missing something (See chart below).  For instance, since my son ate that pile of extra sweet candy, his body may be low on chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur or tryptophan.

If you crave this….
What you really need is this….
Here’s where you can find it…
Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruit, cacao nibs





Broccoli, grapes, cheese, beans, liver chicken

Fresh fruits

Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains

Cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous veggies, kale, cabbage

Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach

Oily Snacks/Fatty Foods
Mustard and  turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Soda, Carbonated Drinks
Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Salty Foods
Raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt

Once you can identify what your child may be low on, try to prepare more healthy foods to build up nutrient levels.  Again, referring back to my son, I can try and increase his fruit intake, give him more grass-fed and pasture raised meat, increase his vegetable intake, etc.  What this will do is diminish his cravings for the extra sweet candy, and he will eat much less of it or, hopefully, none at all.
So, I bet you are now thinking, ”well that’s great.  But….My teenager won’t eat any meat, a vegetable or anything green for that matter!”  For this you MUST get creative in the kitchen (and I don’t mean sneaking liver in your kid’s ice cream cone!)  Since your children are older, you must involve them in meal preparation.  Ask them to look through your cookbooks and pick out a recipe they would like to eat.  Explain to them that it must be a healthy recipe.  You can purchase all the ingredients and either let your child cook dinner by his/herself, make it together with him/her or just make it yourself.   Involving your child in the cooking process may make it more likely your teenager will eat it.  I know a lot of teenagers who love to cook in the kitchen.  Ask them to invite their friends (they can text them….lol.) and ask them to help.  This will enable your teenager to appreciate eating healthy because they partook in the process. 
So this is my “Plan A”.  See if you can figure out if your children are missing any nutrients and try and get them to eat healthier foods by actively participating in food preparation.  If this doesn’t work, there is always “Plan B”….to be continued….


Elinor said...

I think that after trying to convince your child about eating healthy, all the "bad" stuff cannot come into the house.

Christine (Inner Beauty Workshops) said...

Good point Elinor! The problem with teenagers, espcially older ones like mine, is they drive and buy it themselves. This is why I only wrote a plan A, because there are many many problems and many many solutions.

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