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

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Quick Links: Quiz: Are you raising a healthy eater? | Quiz: Are you raising a healthy teen? | Teen Wellness

As teens become more independent in their food choices, they tend to make the wrong choices - even teens who were brought up eating healthy. Here are the four worst food habits teens have and what you can do about them:

Skipping breakfast is the leading bad food habit for teenagers. 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. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast can upstart your teen’s metabolism, which helps with weight control, mood and school performance.

You can ensure that 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, go for the grab and eat on the way breakfasts that are now on the market.

The next unhealthy food habit teens have is increased foods from 'other' food group. Think of the food pyramid, the 'other' food group is the smallest 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.

You can help teens 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 then picking up a bag of oranges and remembering to wash, quarter and put them out on the table during snack time. But the benefits to your teen’s health are worth the effort.

Increased eating outside of the home is another bad food habit teens have. Teens hit the fast food restaurants much more often then 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. Or having sandwich fixings ready when he gets home from school and has to run off to work.

Last, but not least, in this list of bad food habits is soft drink consumption. 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.

Quick Links: Quiz: Are you raising a healthy eater? | Quiz: Are you raising a healthy teen? | Teen Wellness

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