Busy (or idle) teenagers who get hungry will often reach for the quickest solution to ease their hunger pangs.
Unfortunately, this often means eating processed food that comes straight out of a packet.
Convenience food may have a similar total calorie content as freshly produced food, but consuming this food leads to weight gain.
Processed food contains less protein. Protein gives a feeling of satiety, and so people eat stop eating.
Our gut works well with bacteria that we get from insoluble fiber found in vegetables and whole grains. Processed food that lacks these ingredients won’t help us digest the food and gain useful nutrients. Our body might then ‘crave’ more.
If these theories are correct, then we can improve our diet by including:
- Fresh vegetables and whole grains.
Think About Convenience
The secret is to make these items ‘convenient’ for the sporty teenager and their parents. By removing the barriers to them preparing meals, we can help them make better choices.
Here are some suggestions:
If you are preparing a healthy family meal at the weekend, then cook for two extra people. Set aside two portions and put them into containers, and freeze them. Your child only has to put them in the microwave to defrost, or you can take them out of the freezer in the morning, and they can heat them after school.
Try This Recipe
Poached eggs on wholemeal toast with half a crushed avocado. The eggs contain protein, the wholemeal toast the grains, and the avocado healthy fats.
Chips & Dip
This is a midweek favorite in our house. Toasted wholemeal pitta bread that is cut into slices with carrots and cucumber strips. The kids then dip into hummus or salsa. They like the grazing and snacking feel. Peeling and slicing carrots is too much like hard work for them, so we get that ready beforehand. They can toast the pitta bread and slice that.
Breakfast in a Mug
The most important meal of the day is often skipped due to ‘lack of time.’ Preparing it the night before means you only have to heat it for 60 seconds in the morning, and your child can eat it in a couple of minutes or even in the car. Wholemeal oats, some dried fruit and seeds, and whole fat milk with cinnamon for flavor, and let it stand in the fridge overnight.
This makes a tremendous difference to the flavor:
Even a couple of mouthfuls is better than nothing; your child gets a boost to their metabolism and doesn’t suffer a mid-morning slump where they head to the vending machine for the quick and unhealthy fix.
Homemade Recovery Shake
Training late into the evening means that mealtimes are disrupted. Hot, tired and emotional children will need to unwind and relax so that they can sleep well. Eating a large meal will add another disruption to the routine and delay sleep onset (so can screen time!). A simple recovery shake can be made using natural yogurt in a mug or glass, and then add a mixture of berries, wholemeal oats, seeds, and a sliced banana. Depending on the time of year, you could add ice and blend it to make a smoothie.
Using vegetables to create smoothies helps to regulate the release of sugar into the digestive system. Pure fruit smoothies can cause blood sugars spikes due to the fructose content. The blending of fruit removes the need to chew and speeds up the digestive process as the fruit is already broken down. This is okay for a post-training drink when rapid absorption of energy is required. For normal use, adding vegetables will help get the healthy vitamins into your child. Combinations could include Orange, carrot, celery, and mango with water (a bright orange drink); banana, avocado, spinach, honey, and milk (sounds horrible but tastes nice); kale, pineapple chunks, lime juice, ginger, and cashew nuts on top (Vitamin C and flavor bursting).
I don’t know why teenagers, especially, have an aversion to breakfast but providing some of the simple options in smaller portions helps get them to take something on board. Some blenders come with drinks containers attached, or you can make a batch and keep it in the fridge.
Nothing beats eating a healthy meal together as a family: for social reasons as much as taking the time to savor the food. But, giving your child some simple options can give them the sense of independence and convenience that will lead them to healthier eating choices.