Healthy eating habits for teenagers

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Key points

  • It’s normal for teenagers to feel hungrier and eat more as they begin puberty.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits by being a good food role model, creating a healthy food environment, and sending healthy food messages.
  • Unhealthy eating habits include eating too much, not eating enough or following a poorly planned restricted diet.

Eating and eating habits in teenagers

As teenagers grow and develop, it’s normal for them to feel hungrier and start to eat more. As your child begins puberty, her body is going through a major growth spurt. Extra food gives her extra energy and nutrients to support this growth.

Your child might also start changing his eating habits. For example, it’s common for teenagers to start eating fewer fruit and vegies and more fatty and sugary foods. There might be lots of reasons for this. It could be because your child’s friends are into convenience or junk foods, because he has his own money to spend on food, or because he wants to test your family values about eating.

How to encourage healthy eating habits in teenagers

Role-modelling
Being a positive food role model is one of the best ways to reinforce your child’s healthy eating habits.

This is about showing your child that healthy eating is important to you. There are lots of ways you can do this – for example, by always eating breakfast and by choosing healthy food options when you’re eating away from home or food shopping.

Making time to enjoy healthy meals as a family is one of the best ways to model healthy habits and increase your child’s interest in food and nutrition. It’s also a good way to spend family time together catching up on everyone’s day.

Creating a healthy food environment
If you have a healthy food environment in your family, it makes it easier for your child to make better choices.

Here are some practical ways you can create a healthy food environment:

  • Ask your child to help with your family’s food shopping and meal planning.
  • Encourage your child to take responsibility for planning and preparing one healthy family meal a week.

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