Tweens and teens have increased appetites during periods of rapid growth. You can help promote health in your tween or teen by keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy food. The tween and teen years are also the time to allow your child to start preparing their own meals.
Below are some tips to help support your child’s growth and establish healthy eating habits.
Supply healthy, appropriate snacks
Tweens and teens can have one or two snacks between meals to satisfy their appetites. Providing snacks rich in calcium will help your child develop strong bones, while foods rich in iron are important for energy and muscle growth.
Almonds, broccoli, hummus and cheese are all rich in calcium. Try the following snack ideas:
- small broccoli florets dipped in hummus
- a couple of teaspoons of almonds added to yogurt
- a serving of grated cheese (50 g) added to a salad.
Help start the day in a healthy way
Your tween or teen may not be in the mood for breakfast as they rush to school, and you probably do not have time to prepare a complicated meal. However, eating breakfast is a habit that will benefit your child in many ways. Tweens and teens who skip breakfast are tired by mid-morning, have decreased attention spans and may be more likely to opt for high-energy or sugary snacks later in the day.
By encouraging your child to eat breakfast and prepare it themselves, you will help them perform better in school and build healthy habits. Try these options to fit breakfast into the morning rush.
- Breakfast burrito: scrambled egg, grated cheese and diced peppers on a whole grain tortilla – this is good hot or cold and can be made the night before
- Fruit smoothie: blend banana, milk, yogurt, and peanut butter
- Cheese on whole grain toast
Samantha Thiessen, RD, MHSc.
Elly Berger, BA, MD, FRCPC, FAAP, MHPE