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Tips on improving your health

Teenagers and healthy eating

Ask the average teenager what their idea of a decent meal is and their answer would most likely be a hamburger with fries and a milk shake. The rise of fast food restaurants has made these meals easily accessible to everyone, including parents who are too busy to prepare a meal for their children. The result has been an increase in obesity among teenagers.

To encourage your child to form a habit of healthy eating, a parent should not get the child started in unhealthy eating in the first place. Good eating habits formed while the child is still young will last a lifetime. However, if the child has already developed bad eating habits, there are some things parents can do to change that.

Lead by example

Let them see you preparing and eating healthy foods.

Clean out the cupboard

Get rid of all the junk food in the house. It will be that much more difficult for your teenager to eat junk food if all you have in the house is wholesome food.

Enlist their help

Getting them involved in meal preparation can go a long way in encouraging him/her to become a healthy eater. Find colourful, attractive recipes and let your teenager help you prepare those.

Talk to your teenager about nutrition

Explaining the importance of healthy eating to your child is a good way to get him/her to eat the right foods.

Introduce new foods gradually

For example, don't expect your teenager to give up fried chicken and sodas completely. Rather, encourage eating barbecued or grilled chicken.

Make time for family dinners

As far as possible, the family should sit down to dinner together and make it a pleasant, unhurried time. In this atmosphere, it would be easier to get your teenager to sample healthful dishes.

Strike a balance

Allow your child to enjoy his favourites in combination with some nutrient-rich foods. Have an abundance of healthful snacks around - fruit, corn chips, nuts, pretzels, dried fruit are all tasty snacks.

Encourage your child to eat

Some teenagers, especially girls, are overly concerned about their weight. You should explain to your child the necessity of eating three meals a day plus healthful snacks.

Give rewards

Your child will be more compliant if he is rewarded for making the effort to eat the right foods. In the beginning, this may be a trip to a fast food restaurant, but as time goes by, he/she will lose the taste for this type of food.


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