Today we’re talking about teen nutrition. We had been planning to do this topic, but we bumped it up a couple of episodes because WeightWatchers just recently launched an app to help children as young as eight lose weight. We think there’s a lot wrong with this. In this episode we cover how we work with teens, which is our Foodtrainers Junior program, and the crucial ingredients that teens need during their growing years.
At Foodtrainers, we don’t see kids younger than 13. We find that if there’s an inquiry from a parent with a kid younger than that it’s just better to work with the parents on family food habits. But the teen age group is really this pivotal stage where you can create really healthy or unhealthy eating habits. It’s also a time when our brains and bodies are still developing, hormones are happening and we’re seeing sons of tons of physical changes.
When parents come to us with food questions about their teen, we ask them to check in about their own histories and egos. For example by asking, if your child is putting on weight before puberty, why does that upset you? We’re also hugely aware that kids are now getting more input than ever from social media about body image. Over 80% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat and 53% of 13-year-old American girls are already unhappy with their bodies. This number actually grows to 78% of girls being unhappy with their bodies by the time they reach age 17 and mostly we don’t age out of being unhappy with our bodies, it continues into adulthood. So teens really don’t need to be more self aware or self critical than they already are.
We recommend parents focus on their teens as whole people, for example by saying, they’re smart, they’re funny, they’re creative, they’re strong, and not just focus on the physical stuff. One thing that we really tell parents is to really emphasize the compliments, particularly the non body-related compliments.
As much as we think there’s a danger about talking too much about size and weight, there’s also a real danger in ignoring it. So look at your kids for signs. For example, are they taking a really long time to get dressed in the morning because they’re going through a lot of clothing changes?
One of the best strategies for healthy eating on teens is to focus on what they should be eating more of, not so much on what they shouldn’t be eating. So we encourage them to eat more veggies, greens, good protein and boost their water intake.
Snack foods we recommend for teens are:
- Nuts+Nuts almonds and cashews
- Grass-fed jerky
- Yes Bars
- Lark Ellen granola over some Greek Yogurt or Siggi’s
- Health Warrior chia bars
- GoGo squeeZ pouches
- Simple Mills crackers
- Wild Friends peanut butter
Important nutrients for teens are:
- Vitamin D
- Iron (we don’t love iron supplements so legumes are a great way to go – we love Banza Pasta’s chickpea pastas)
A multivitamin is great for picky eaters. Pure Encapsulations makes Junior Nutrients. We also love SmartyPants Vitamins – they make gummies for Omega-3s. A probiotic supplement and probiotic foods are good for kids as well.
Lastly, just a reminder to have the conversations that you need to have with your teens without being critical and judgmental so that you can keep food a fun, safe place, not a stressful place.
- Learn more at foodtrainers.com
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- Read: The Little Book of Thin: Foodtrainers Plan-It-to-Lose-It Solutions for Every Diet Dilemma