PEP Talks: Patient Education Program
4 Easy Ways to Help Teens Eat healthy
Want to get your teenagers to eat healthier? Here are some ideas from MetroHealth internist Alice Stollenwerk Petrulis, MD, who sees patients at MetroHealth Westlake Health Center.
Serve breakfast every day.
“Every morning get up early and make your best effort to get your teenager some breakfast,’’ says Dr. Petrulis. “And model that behavior yourself.’’
Breakfast doesn’t need to be a sit-down spread with eggs and toast. It could be a granola bar, a bagel, a grilled cheese sandwich or a sandwich made the night before. Something portable — to eat while on the way to school — would be especially good.
And it’s important that a parent be in the kitchen, making sure that breakfast makes it into their teen’s hands.
A healthy lunch is vital.
“A lot of our teenagers also skip lunch,’’ says Dr. Petrulis. “They didn’t pack a lunch or they don’t like what is being served at school.’’ Get teens involved with picking things for their lunch at the grocery store and making things the night before.
Offer the right snacks.
Teens are hungry after school, which ends hours before until dinner. Some snacks to consider having ready include:
- Fresh cut veggies and hummus, or pita bread and hummus.
- Cheese and crackers with a little bit of fruit.
- Drinkable yogurt.
- Flavored no calorie water, or low-fat or skim milk or low-fat chocolate milk. No sugary drinks.
It’s all about planning ahead, regardless of which meal is involved. Dr. Petrulis offered some tips on dinner shortcuts:
- Pair a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store with a bagged salad or precut vegetables and fruit. Serve rice or potatoes to round it out.
- Serve soup, salad and bread.
- Make a pot of chili over the weekend and serve that several times during the week.