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Teenage Nutrition

Pizza, junk food and soda pop. The first taste of filched out of the fridge when nobody's looking. A so-called " pit." That describes the eating habits of the American teenager. They have strong wills, minds of their own, and sometimes their own money and cars, and all this makes it very hard to control your teen's diet. It's easy to get a six year old to eat vegetables by making a smiley-face salad, but this strategy just won't hold water with a teen.


It may be difficult to find things that will satisfy your teen, but avoid resorting to fast food. They\'ll get more than enough of this on their own. It is important to stress the importance of good nutrition to your teen. By stressing that good dietary habits will improve things they care about, like their personal appearance or athletic performance, you will have some success in changing the bad habits.



You\'ll find that teens are often interested in environmental issues and the world beyond their own community. Some may become vegetarians at this point. This may be distressing to you as a parent, for example if you live on a cattle ranch in Texas, but the best thing you can do is to accept this decision, and make sure they are informed about vegetarianism as a lifestyle. Make sure they know that being a vegetarian involves a lot more than just eliminating meat from their diets. Done correctly, it can be very healthy. Done wrong, it can be a serious health problem. Encourage them to read labels on their snacks. Those packaged snacks at the checkout counter that have pictures of fruit on the label are usually nothing but a collection of chemicals, with no fruit at all. Get your teen interested in what kind of produce you eat in the house. Visiting a local farmer\'s market may get them interested in organic produce. They may even start to chide you for bringing in apples from the grocery store instead of locally-grown fruits.



Don\'t make food into a power struggle with your teen. You will lose. Do realize that teens will very commonly stray from their healthy eating habits that you struggled so hard to instill when they were younger, but they will eventually come back around. Do make new foods available. Teens are often receptive to new and exciting things, especially exotic foods from around the world.



This is also a time to be aware of eating disorders. The average age that bulimia and anorexia develop is 17, and somewhere between five and ten percent of teens suffer from an eating disorder.

Feedback, submissions, ideas? Email wildflowerneu@yahoo.com.