Many teens like to eat junk.
Here are some of the reasons that they like to eat junk:
You don’t want them to eat junk!
Their bodies are changing rapidly and they just don’t know how to get the increased nutrients they need.
Junk food requires no effort.
Junk food is full of sugar and salt and satisfies a craving.
Teenage girls don’t understand how to manage PMT and food cravings.
Teens are full of feelings they often can’t manage and junk food can numb those feelings.
Junk food feels comforting.
These are all really good reasons. Junk food can seem to be a good solution. It works.
So, if junk food is serving some of your teens needs, but you’re worried about the longer term effects then here’s two things that work way better than nagging:
1. Stop worrying about the ‘bad food’ and concentrate on providing plenty of good food in appealing ways.
– there is nothing like a good breakfast, lovingly prepared, to set your child up for the day. A high protein, slow energy release breakfast often leads to teens making healthier food choices throughout the rest of the day. Fill her up on good nutrition wherever you can and her body will call less for the unhealthy stuff.
2. Think about what junk food is giving your teen, and figure out other ways of meeting those needs.
- is it hunger or feelings that have her reaching for the crisps or chocolate straight after school?
- does she need a chat rather than a bowl of sugared cereal just before bed?
- in the lead up to her period, would a hot bath and easing back on activities help her to avoid devouring a whole packet of biscuits?
You may need to start with yourself – and gently tackle the reasons behind your own unhealthy eating – so that you can model healthy behaviour to your teen.
As parents we often see ourselves in a guiding and influencing role in our children’s lives, but too often we are lazy and believe that we can just tell them what to do. More powerful is to show them, either by doing it for them first, or by making sure we are doing it ourselves.