5 Tips for Keeping Your Teen Energized and Healthy

Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles | April 25, 2017

If you have teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18, chances are you still find it difficult to help them maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Adolescence is a crucial time for growth and hormone balance, as well as creating healthy lifelong habits. However, it’s also a notoriously challenging age for teens to manage healthy eating – especially when they’re picky, busy, and always hungry. To get your teens to cut down on processed foods and stay well-nourished, it’s important to include them in the decision-making process when buying snacks and preparing meals. Encourage teens to become more involved with nutrition in your home. This will set them up for healthy growth and development.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Teen Energized, Focused, and Healthy

  1. Purchase healthy snacks that they like to eat. There’s a fruit out there for everyone. If your teens don’t like melons, find other fruit that they enjoy. For those busier days, cut up the fruits ahead of time or opt for an apple or a banana, which are excellent for on-the-go snacking.
  2. Have your teens make a list of their favorite dinners. Create healthy versions of their favorite dishes on a weekly basis. For example, if they love chicken parmesan, you can make it more nutritious by using whole-grain breadcrumbs and low-fat mozzarella. Instead of frying it, bake it in the oven and serve over spaghetti squash for added nutrition and fiber.
  3. Support optimal hydration. Having fun gadgets, such as a seltzer-making machine or a lemon infuser, can encourage your teens to drink more water. For hot days, especially if your teenagers are very active, keep electrolyte tablets on hand to help maintain a healthy water balance. Also, prepare a pitcher water with sliced fruit and have it readily available in the fridge. Nothing is more thirst-quenching than a tall glass of fruit-infused cold water.
  4. Bringing lunch from home in a fun cooler bag trumps most school cafeteria choices. Get creative with their lunches. Instead of the usual PB&J, change things up with a chicken, roasted pepper and avocado wrap. For a bit of warmth and comfort, make homemade vegetable and lentil soup and pour it into a thermos. It’s a taste of home at school that also packs a powerful nutritional punch!
  5. Have your teens cook one “whole food” dinner each week. This can be done on any night of the week. There’s only one rule: no processed foods allowed. By having your teens create their own meals, they can take ownership and pride in what they put together. They also learn what whole foods are and, more importantly, how to cook them.

Teenage years are the best time to develop strong, healthy habits for life. You’ll be surprised how engaged teens are when it comes to health and nutrition. Allowing them to choose their favorite healthy snacks and meals, as well as getting them involved in the cooking process, ensures that your teens are getting the nutrients they need to stay in their best health!


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Jennifer O'Donnell-Giles

Jenn Giles, R.D., C.S.S.D. is all about health and wellness. She has over 15 years’ experience, including a dual master’s degree in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD). She supplements all of this with her spin instructor certification and USATriathlon Level I Coach Certification.

Jennifer is passionate about (actually, obsessed with) the sport of triathlon. She has been personally participating in triathlons since 2000 and running road races since 1992. She is a two-time Ironman finisher and has completed countless numerous marathons. She has been a member of Power Bar Team Elite since 2006 and competed as a member of the 2006 Aquaphor/Active.com Sponsored Athlete Team. She was ranked as USAT All American Honorable mention in 2006 and 2011. Jennifer does all of this along side of her husband, Patrick, who is an equally accomplished triathlete and runner. They try as hard as they can to do all of their training and racing together.

She will tell you, however, that her most important, most rewarding and most challenging job is as a mother of four. She knows first hand the challenges of maintaining optimal fitness, overall good health and achieving goals while raising a family - of which good nutrition is the cornerstone.

Most importantly, she knows how to motivate, inspire and challenge athletes based on their own abilities, strengths and everyday lifestyles. She believes there is an athlete in everyone - no matter what their abilities are – and if those abilities are manifold, then there is an even better athlete in there!

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