teaching tips blog


Jan 10, 2013

Nutritious Teens – An Oxymoron?

Becky Cooke

   The holidays are over and your teens (and maybe you) are bemoaning the extra pounds put on eating all that wonderful and bountiful holiday fare. Before they begin one of those crash diets, consider designing a semester long nutrition and wellness elective. All of the family can participate, which will make it more fun for your teen. The internet and library can guide you in locating resources to use. You can include lessons on

  • Basics of nutrition (what kinds of food to eat, importance of vitamins and minerals and amounts your body needs, effect of metabolism rate, nutrients to fight illness especially during this cold and flu season)
  • Meal planning and kitchen practice (a night off for mom!)
  • Exercise (and its combined effectiveness with nutrition for weight loss)

   It’s helpful to emphasize the benefits of eating meals at regular intervals so few, if any, snacks are necessary in between. Of course if snacks are eaten, you will want to redirect your teens to healthy ones in the pantry or refrigerator.

   Studies also show that families who sit down to at least one meal a day will likely enjoy more nutritious fare. If your family is anything like mine, evening meals were often hurried affairs. Coaches, teachers, or instructors seemed to invariably schedule practices and lessons right smack during the dinner hour. It was very frustrating to me since cooking is not my most favorite activity and I did not want to be cooking meals to order. For these situations, here are some solutions I found that worked.

   Seafood is fast to fix and not too heavy a meal – great choice when my daughter had a dance class.

   Crock pot/slow cooker meals – for busy days when I knew I would be too tired by evening to think of what to make for dinner. It also allowed a hot meal for everyone even if we all couldn’t sit down together that night.

   Heat and serve meals – I loved when I was organized enough to make a double portion of dinner one night that I could heat up for another meal later in the week.

   Some families who have the flexibility have found having a main meal in the middle of the day works best, especially when extra curricular activities occur in the evenings. These families say that eating out at noon (or getting “take out”) is often cheaper than dinner in the evening. It also allows for more exercise the rest of the day to burn off the calories!

   You can enjoy the two-fold benefit of a nutrition course: teaching your teens good eating habits while they earn high school credit. Sounds like a winner for everyone!

Happy and Healthy New Year,