If you have teenagers, you know how hungry they are. Especially teenage boys. 4 months into his 13th year, my son outgrew me. Meaning he is now taller and weighs more than me. It is a strange but wonderful feeling to look at my “baby” and see a growing man who is now way stronger than me.
I take my role as his mom very seriously, and one of the most important aspects of my role is to keep him healthy, happy and full. Please don’t ever, ever make your sweet boys feel guilty for the amount of food they consume, or for the time you are sacrificing to make sure they stay fed. Have you ever heard a mom say, “Ugh, all you ever do is EAT!” It is not pretty.
Just accept the fact that your grocery bill is going to skyrocket and be quiet.
Here are my top ten tips for feeding your teenage boy
1. Give him a smoothie every day.
Smoothies can be extremely healthy and filling! They are also super easy to make and give you the opportunity to sneak in the little things that will benefit your teenager, such as flax seeds, chia seeds, and avocado. (Bleh, we hate avocado and will only eat it in smoothies.) Our go-to smoothie is a handful of frozen berries, 2 frozen spinach cubes, 1 frozen avocado cube, a couple pieces of sliced banana, and some apple or grape juice. We always toss in flax and chia seeds as well.
If you keep your freezer well stocked with these ingredients, making smoothies is a breeze. You can even make it easier on the whole family by creating individual portions in freezer bags.
2. Serve a variety of foods at a meal.
I have to admit that sometimes I forget what exactly makes a meal a meal and I neglect the side dishes. Dinner should not just be spaghetti. It should be spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread and salad. Always serve a salad and load it up with veggies your son likes. Also, to boys, everything is better with bacon. Give your family two or three veggies to choose from. Make rice and potatoes. Even if it doesn’t get eaten at dinner, trust me, it will get eaten.
3. Regardless of whether or not your son plays sports, feed him like he is an athlete.
Just like an athlete, your teenager needs a certain balance of nutrients to reach his full potential. Fat, protein, carbs, fiber…sometimes it is hard to know what that balance is. So I highly recommend this book called Feed Your Athlete by DK Publishing. I received this book for free last month and have already read it cover to cover twice and have tested out several of the smoothie, lunch, and snack recipes. Because the recipes and guides are so simple and easy to follow, I think I’ll let my son take this book with him years from now when he leaves home!
4. Create a menu plan and display it prominently in your kitchen.
It is common sense that having a menu plan relieves a lot of pressure for moms, but it also relieves the stress a kid might feel wondering what there will be to eat later. Teenagers think about food a lot and when he or she knows what to expect for lunch and dinner, it takes away the unknown and allows them to focus on school work, projects, and chores.
5. Don’t outlaw junk food, but don’t make it easy to get to.
I am a huge potato chip fan and my son inherited that from me. Chips are always in our pantry, but we have gotten into the habit of only eating them when we have sandwiches or during movie nights. You don’t want something like chips to become the forbidden fruit or your child will want them all the time.
6. Instead, make healthy snacks EASY to access.
Keep a drawer full of washed apples in the fridge. Your children will go for a bag of baby carrots long before they grab a carrot that has to be peeled and chopped. If your child loves oranges, but hates to peel them, offer to do it for them. 60 seconds out of your day is worth it.
7. Starchy vegetables are your friend.
Vegetables such as potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, and butternut squash are very filling and positively delicious when roasted with herbs and olive oil. My son can easily polish off half of a pan of these veggies AND it keeps him full for a pretty long time.
8. Create a no-prep snack suggestion list and display it prominently too.
How many of you have walked into the kitchen to see your hungry child standing with the refrigerator door open or aimlessly staring into the pantry? Making a simple list of grab-and-go snack options will take the guesswork out of their dilemma of what can I eat now that will not spoil dinner. Some of our options are: carrots, apple, Triscuits, yogurt, hardboiled egg, grapes, applesauce, banana, nuts, popcorn, raisins, pretzels, and Cheerios.
9. Teach him the science of superfoods and the horrors of fast food.
Superfood has become one of those buzz words that skeptics associate with health food nuts, but a superfood is just a food (or even a drink) that has tremendous health benefits, like my favorites kale, seaweed, and salmon. There is science behind all of these claims and your kids need to know it.
On the other hand, they also need to know the science behind why fast food is so tasty, yet so terrible for your mind and body. Taco Bell or KFC every so often is not going to kill you, but your kids do need to understand the dangers of consuming too much fast food.
10. Give him a say in what you buy and make.
One of the ways that I got my son hooked on vegetables when he was little was to allow him to pick one new fruit or vegetable every time we went to the store. He was absolutely more willing to try things if it was his decision to bring it home and he felt he had ownership in that particular food item. We still continue this today, although it is becoming harder and harder to find new things to try. We have now expanded this to the international aisles of the store and often come home with sometimes weird Asian or German items.
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