Bad Food Habits Teens Have and What Parents Can Do About Them

Teens often drink too many sugary soft drinks.
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As teens become more independent in their food choices, they sometimes enjoy indulging in some not-so-healthy options. And if their friends have similar eating habits, they may underestimate how bad their diets really are because it seems normal to hot dogs and cookies for lunch.

Here are the four worst food habits teens have and what you can do about them:

1. Skipping Breakfast

According to the American Dietetic Association, more than half of male teens and more than two-thirds of female teens do not eat breakfast on a regular basis.

Eating breakfast can upstart your teen's metabolism, which helps with weight control, mood, and school performance.

Ensure your teen eats a healthy breakfast by making the foods readily accessible to him. Make it a part of your routine to put breakfast on the table and sit with your teen while you both enjoy a healthy breakfast. Or, if time is a problem, look for quick and healthy breakfast options that are perfect for on-the-go meals.

2. Eating Too Many Foods from the 'Other' Food Group

Think of the food pyramid, the 'other' food group is the smallest section at the top with what is supposed to be the least amount of servings. Teens tend to eat too much high fat and calorie snack foods that are categorized in the 'other' food group.

Help your teen break this habit by having fruits and healthy snacks available more often then having high fat and calorie snacks available. It is easier to grab a bag of chips at the grocery store than it is to pick up fruit that needs to be washed and peeled.

3. Dining Out Often

Teens hit the fast food restaurants much more often than they did when they were younger. This tends to be because of school, sports and work schedules overlapping regular meal times.

To circumvent this bad habit, talk to your teen about only eating fast food once a week. Then make dinner and healthy food available to him when he has the time.

This is as easy as fixing a plate for him and allowing him to heat it up when he gets home from his sports practice. 

4. Drinking Soft Drinks

 A study looking at American youths aged 6-17 found an increase in the prevalence of soft drink consumption from 37% in 1978 to 56% in 1998. You can help your teen choose a healthier drink by having fruit juice and water available and not buying soda. Or try fruit flavored carbonated water instead of soda. My teens really like these.

One common denominator for getting teens to eat healthier and avoid these bad food habits is your active role in providing healthy foods. When you get in the habit of making these foods more readily available to your teen, you will see a change in their eating habits.

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