Though it may seem like your teen wants to fend for him/herself, it’s important to remember that you are still the primary caretaker and remain highly influential when it comes to their food and nutrition.
The key to influencing your teen is to make healthy habits cool. Fortunately, we are in the midst of a widespread wellness movement. Clean eating, local and sustainable farming, plant-based menu items, green vegetable-based juices, and smoothies are trendy, and grocery stores, restaurants, juice bars, food trucks, and farmers’ markets that offer goods made with whole, nutrient-dense foods are becoming more and more common worldwide.
Hopefully, these options will soon overtake fast food hamburgers and processed convenience foods as the go-to standard of eating. By encouraging your children to accept that standard, you are working toward making it a reality.
Stumped about where to start? Here is a list of 5 foods that offer the essential nutrients and vitamins your child will need to stay active and healthy through young adulthood.
- Lentils – Lentils are the ultimate plant-based source of protein. With 18 grams of protein per cup, these tiny legumes make a great meat substitute. In addition, lentils are usually less “gassy” than other beans – a great selling point for any self-conscious teen!
- Raspberries – These red berries are nature’s beauty food. They are filled with free radical fighting phytonutrients and antioxidant ellagitannins to keep your teen glowing.
- Kale – Kale houses a slew of beneficial nutrients, including fiber, vitamin A, C, and K as well as minerals calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Kale comes in many varieties—lacinato, purple, curly, and baby to name a few—so experiment with them to see which works best for your recipes. We recommend lacinato for sautés and steams, lacinato and baby kale for smoothies, and curly and purple kale for oven-baked kale chips. The possibilities are endless!
- Walnuts – These tasty brain-shaped nuts are actually a powerful source of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients known to help boost brain health! Walnuts are also cited for their heart-protective benefits. In addition to omegas, walnuts also contain antioxidants and bone-building magnesium and phosphorus.
- Seaweed – As teens mature, so too will their taste buds. To introduce out-of-the-ordinary foods like seaweed, it may be helpful to tap back into the toddler-feeding mindset. Any struggle will be worthwhile since seaweed is one of the few natural sources of iodine, an extraordinary nutrient missing in almost every food. Iodine is mandatory for maintaining the health of the thyroid– an organ that regulates metabolism, growth, and development—making it exceptionally important for your growing teen.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s a good place to start!
The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t get bogged down with the do’s and don’ts of diet and nutrition when it comes to your child. Keep it simple! Whole foods that are unprocessed and that don’t come wrapped in plastic or packaging are always the safest, best bet. They will be naturally full of fiber, protein and the nutrients your not-so-little ones growing body needs!