Teaching teens to make healthy choices
With hormones changing and growth spurts occurring, many teenagers fail to realize that what they choose to eat matters both now as well as in the future.
By eating right, teens can prevent future health risks such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more. They can also nourish their bodies as it is growing and developing.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a poor diet can lead to consequences such as energy imbalance, weight gain and a negative school performance. This is why they recommend a diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and limited intake of sodium, added sugars, refined grains and cholesterol.
Studies have shown that most young people are not following these guidelines.
To help teens make better choices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service has developed new standards requiring schools provide adequate nutrition options in the cafeteria, vending machines, snack bars and other venues such as sporting events.
In order to help promote nutritious choices, Dr. Heidi Swanson, a pediatrician on staff at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., shares the following tips for teens and families to boost their nutrition:
- Try to limit junk food and pop all together.
- When eating out with friends, choose places that serve healthy options and order nutritious items together to support one another.
- As a family, everyone in the house should try to eat the same, even if family members are at different place in their healthy-eating journeys.
- Parents should do their best to model healthy eating behavior.
- Do not be overly concerned with calorie counting because this can actually lead to the opposite end of the healthy eating spectrum.
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