Start simple and keep it funIt can be easy to overwhelm your teen with lists, ingredients, and instructions. This is why it’s a great idea to start simple and keep it a fun activity for your teen. Ask him for help instead of demanding that he take part in cooking. If he feels like his help is wanted and valued, it may give him a confidence boost. Tips for getting your teen involved in meal planning:
- Make a list of the healthy foods your teen likes and that other family members enjoy eating.
- Make a list of family favorite meals, particularly those that are healthy and easy to prepare.
- Explain how budgets and meal planning should work. You may even enjoy looking through the weekly sales ads from your local grocery store. If green beans and chicken are a good deal this week, you may want to develop a few recipes using these great ingredients.
- Consider using Pinterest with your teen so that they can look up great recipes and get some good ideas for healthy meal options.
- Watch cooking shows together for inspiration and to build a bond regarding food and cooking.
- Where possible, help your teen with meal prep by washing and chopping the vegetables and fruits used for meals.
- Keep it fun and lighthearted; perhaps play music and dance around the kitchen with your teen as you talk about cooking, recipes, and life in general.
The importance of nutritionStudies have demonstrated a connection between nutrition and mental wellness in teens. There is also a connection between nutrition and ADHD. Consider a teen who is struggling somewhat with his mental health. He may start to feel disconnected from his family. Getting your teen actively involved in family activities, such as meal prepping and cooking, can help to reinforce that family connection for him. The importance of nutrition can’t be overlooked for so many reasons. If left to his own devices, your teen would probably drink sugary energy drinks and ranch-flavored chips all day. Sit down with him and explain just how important good nutrition is:
- Help him understand the importance of starting his day with a healthy breakfast. If he’s not hungry at school, he’s less likely to feel anxious, distracted, and angry.
- Explain the nutritional value of each of the vegetables and fruits he enjoys. Then work with him to encourage him to try other fresh vegetables and fruits, understanding the nutritional value they add to his diet.
- Have your teen work on meal plans that include a favorite protein, vegetables, and perhaps a dessert the family loves. Even desserts offer the opportunity to add nutrition, a fresh fruit salad as an example.
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