A hungry teenager can empty a fridge in no time flat.
Teenagers love to eat
…that’s a given, but did you know that most teenagers have a higher caloric need than do adults or even younger kids? Well, if you have a teenager or young adult, you probably DO know that! Very active teenage boys need upwards of 3,500 calories per day, while a sedentary teenage boy may need around 2,500. With both boys and girls, it depends on the activity level of the teen, but most teens don’t need to worry too much about calories! It's more important to focus on eating for health.
How to encourage teens to make healthy choices:
It’s important to encourage kids and teens to focus on the foods that give them energy in a good way! A sugar high is always followed by a CRASH! It’s important to introduce your teen to as many fruits and vegetables as possible before they head off to college! While they are home if you have healthy choices available chances are greater they will eat healthy foods! If your young children aren’t already exploring food prep in your kitchen, you may want to invite them to start cooking with you now!
One of our favorite activities has always been hanging out at a bookstore. We often go just to look around or find a new read. The first place I usually go is the Cookbook section. Why not take your teen to a bookstore and pick out a new cookbook together and start trying new recipes? This is a great way to spend time bonding as well as instill the importance of eating for health.
Explore the options
If you have been going to the supermarket alone, next time you go, ask your teenager to go with you! If my teenage son is home, I always ask him to come with me (so he can push the cart and carry the bags!) Beyond having your own personal bag boy, it is nice to spend time together and help your teen learn to Read Labels! You can even find new and different foods that neither of you has ever tried before!
Years ago when we lived in Tampa, one of our favorite family adventures was to go exploring new grocery stores, health food stores, etc. to find foods we had never tried before. One favorite was Wild Oats, this was back before they were bought out by Whole Foods (1). Every single one of us can still remember Dino, the guy who worked in the fancy cheese department, who introduced us to so many different kinds of cheese and ways to eat them!
Dino taught us to eat greek yogurt with fig jam and Marcona almonds! Oh my, you haven't lived until you've tried it! Sometimes, when we are walking through the cheese section of a store one of my kids will just sigh and say, “I miss Dino.” ha ha
So, explore new foods, don’t be afraid to ask “how would you prepare this?” The guy behind the meat counter might have some crazy wonderful ideas! I’ve learned so much from the guys at the meat counter at our local Earth Fare! You can also ask questions like, where did this food come from? Is it local? Was it previously frozen? All these things are good to know.
Most teenagers consume a lot of food so it’s a good idea to make sure they have good choices available. Here are a few suggestions:
- Nut Butter – peanut, almond, cashew…whatever they like
- Eggs – you can do so much with eggs, I can think of at least a dozen ways to prepare them
- Mango – pretty much a perfect food and has all the immune boosting Vitamin C your teenager needs for a daily requirement. Can be eaten alone or added to smoothies, wraps, salads…
- Almond Milk – can be used in smoothies or in homemade hot cocoa
- Frozen berries are great for adding to yogurt or smoothies and are great for their immune systems
- Popcorn – preferably organic, we like to add Nutritional Yeast to ours for taste and health benefits
- Canned beans – these can be added to soup, wraps, and even sandwiches! Beans add fiber and can help prevent obesity and diabetes.
- Hummus with veggies to dip – Hummus is basically a bean paste but it is high in protein and very healthy. If your teen is a vegan or vegetarian, make sure to keep hummus around for them to snack on.
- Oatmeal – whole oats can be one of the best food choices your teen makes, skip the prepackaged already flavored ones, they’re over processed and full of sugar and artificial flavors
- Greek yogurt – it has twice as much protein as regular yogurt! Skip the flavored (sugared) varieties and just add some local honey and almonds, it’s the best!
- Fish – either canned salmon or tuna has the omega-3s teenagers need to improve mood and brain function, so don’t forget to keep this in your pantry
- Cheese – having various cheeses on hand can be great for making mini pizzas, grilled cheese sandwiches, or adding to crackers
- Various nuts – Teens seem to like things they have to peel or open…mine really enjoy pistachios and sunflower seeds, but they also really enjoy almonds, pecans, walnuts and pine nuts.
A great gift for a teenager would be a subscription to Love With Food… all six of my children have enjoyed receiving this red box in the mail every month and tasting foods they've never tried before. You can see how excited they get in our Review Videos here and also here!
When the boy is growing he has a wolf in his belly. – German Proverb
Great Teen Food Blogs you might want to check out with your teen:
How To Videos
We have a lot more video ideas in the works, but being a Junior in High School with an intense focus on art, time often prevents us from sharing everything we want to. Here’s a list to get you started, but take a second to subscribe to our channel, because there will be many more videos and ideas to come!