Oh yes, I used those two words in the same sentence: “teenagers” and “healthy." It’s possible to make that happen. Not easy, but it is possible. Teenagers will make you want to rip your hair out to begin with, then you add in trying to get them to eat a bit healthier. That’s the perfect recipe for a headache.
Since I have three teenagers living and breathing right now, I have found a few things that work, and they may help you too.
Tip # 1: Feed them what they like
Teenagers usually eat the same thing all the time: tacos, quesadillas, chicken parmesan, mac and cheese, protein shakes or hip smoothies. So give them what they like -- just make sure to use healthy ingredients and, most importantly, DON’T TELL THEM!
Lately, I have been making trays of baked ziti or mac and cheese for them to feast on all week long. I throw in some diced chicken and veggies to make it a full meal. They also love sandwiches, so I buy Applegate brand turkey, ham and cheese and they have that as an option too.
Tip #2: Keep it simple
Don’t stress yourself out and feel like you have to make gourmet meals because guess what?! They don’t want that. They are teenagers, and they like simple foods, so make healthy, simple foods for them. I make sure I always have shredded cheese and tortilla shells around, because throwing together a quesadilla takes only a few minutes.
Tip #3: Keep cut up fruit in the fridge
I have noticed that when I cut up fruit and have it easily accessible to eat, they eat it! So once you get home from the supermarket, wash and dice up your fruits and veggies. Easy access for everyone! Make sure to buy the fruits and veggies they like. Why fight the wind? Go with the wind. If they like strawberries and apples, then buy that.
Tip #4: Don’t make unhealthy options available
It has worked for me since the beginning of my journey. If you think they won’t eat healthy, trust me, they’ll get hungry enough to eat the multi-grain bread you bought, the fruit in the fridge or the black bean chips that are now staring at them on the shelf.
Tip #5: They are never too old for ice pops
Another realization I had last summer… I spent an entire day making ice pops. Originally it was for my 3-year-old, but my teenagers kept eating them. I couldn’t get mad because they were healthy. What I did realize is that this was another great way to get my teens to eat a variety of fruits and veggies. The big hit were the pink ice pops. They were a simple blend of pineapple, cherries and strawberries. My fav was the coconut ice pops. You can really make this a fun thing to do this summer. You can find inexpensive molds just about every where now.
Tip #6: Don’t be too serious
My last and most valuable piece of advice I had to learn for myself. I am a huge soda police person. I hate it. I never liked it even as a child. I do know that my kids drank it when they were out with their friends and I even allowed them to order 7-Up and some pizza a few times as a treat. I do not advocate crazy because crazy never works. Consistent, creative and practical does work.
Getting teenagers to eat healthy isn’t that hard. Keep it simple, give them what they want, and do not stress. They give us enough reasons to stress about, don’t let food be another one.
What creative tips do you use to get your teens to eat healthy? Share in the comments below. I love to hear new, inspiring ideas!