Teenage years are an interesting chapter: not only do teens learn (with parental help) how to become successfully independent, teenage years are also very important and formative years in terms of setting lifelong habits and defining values. Food, drink, and physical activity are huge components of teenage life. Teens need to create healthy habits such as a balance between healthy foods, sweet treats, soda consumption, and physical exercise; in turn these habits will make their transition into adulthood a smooth and happy journey! My stepson just turned 15, and my husband and I put a huge emphasis on helping him become a health-conscious and balanced individual in relation to what he eats, drinks, and his physical activities.
Here are 7 tips to help your teens find healthy balance and make smart food and drink choices:
1. Cook at home from scratch, using whole food ingredients! I remember my parents cooking this way when I was growing up, and I know that it was the best way to instill my core food habits. Being a good role model for your teens and being consistent with healthy food choices is the best way to establish healthy eating habits. Kids like to mirror. Lead by example!
2. Always welcome sweets and treats, in moderation! Teenagers love sweet drinks, energy drinks, and other fun treats. Set a personal example by consuming those fun foods in moderate quantities and balancing healthy foods with fun foods.
3. Actually have a conversation about your food philosophy! Whenever it seems appropriate or whenever the subject of food comes up, we talk with our teen about how to maintain a balanced, healthy diet, how to balance healthy foods with fun foods, such as desserts and sweet drinks, and how to make sure everything is consumed in moderation. Talking about food is important, and it’s usually a fun conversation, too! It’s especially important during teenage years when kids are more capable of understanding and making the right food choices.
4. Get plenty of physical activity every day! My mother-in-law always said that the best way to keep teenagers out of trouble is to keep them busy with sports. I have seen the wisdom of those words as I’ve watched my stepson and his peers grow up. It’s very important for our family to keep our teenager busy with healthy activities that benefit both his mind and body. That’s why in the fall he is involved almost every day in cross country training, in the winter he skis, and in the spring he is a part of track-and-field team. He also does cross-training for all these sports in between the seasons. All three of us are active skiers in the winter, making sure that we spend as much time outdoors as we can. We started him skiing early on, when he was 8:
Now, at age 15, not only is he an excellent skier, he has found a true passion in skiing:
5. Get outside with your teen! In our current world filled with technology and internet, it’s important to find balance in that too, and we make sure to spend a lot of time outdoors! We like to be active, but we also like to be out in nature, enjoying the fresh air, being with other active friends and their kids, and appreciating the beauty around us. Only out in nature we can become witnesses to really striking moments:
Trust me; experiences like that really have a formative effect on our teens. They learn to appreciate the beauty and the world around us and to see that we are not the only inhabitants on the Planet Earth:
6. Get good sleep! Making the right food choices, active lifestyle, and good sleep will help your teen go through his/her teen years and the hormonal changes in a smooth manner.
7. Help your teen discover his/her passion! Everything will be easier, more fun, and more positive for your teen if you help him/her discover his/her passion and support it! When teenagers have a hobby they are passionate about, it helps them stay balanced emotionally, helps them feel fulfilled and important. What does your teenager enjoy doing? Hiking, biking, photography, science projects? Help them discover things they feel passionate about and support them in pursuing those passions!
We’re all busy, including our teens. But amid tons of homework and after-school activities, let’s communicate with our teens about healthy eating, having an active lifestyle, occasionally enjoying sweet treats, sodas, and the idea that everything we eat and drink should be in moderation. It will help make their transition through adolescence so much smoother and happier.
Mixify is an on-going effort by Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi to educate teens and help them balance their foods, drinks and physical activities. For teens, MyMixify.com offers experts (from nutritionists and dietitians, to coaches and athletes) who are standing by to answer any questions they might have about healthy balance. The website also provides tips and tools, such as healthy recipes, a calorie calculator, tools to discover national parks, trails, and nature in general! Parents can also connect with ABA Delivers on Twitter, or ABA Delivers on Facebook. You can also learn more about America’s Beverage Companies’ commitments and initiatives to helping achieve a healthier lifestyle, such as removing full-calorie sodas from schools, and their new goal to cut beverage calories consumed per person by 20 percent by 2025 via Delivering Choices for Balance.
“Coke, Dr Pepper and Pepsi understand that getting a balanced mix of foods, drinks and physical activities for your family isn’t always easy. That’s why they’re coming together for the first time ever to talk to teens about balancing what they eat and drink with what they do. With tools to help teens get active and information to help them think about when they’ve had too much, or maybe when it’s time for a treat—America’s beverage companies are supporting our efforts to find a balanced mix that works for our families.”
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