Overcoming obstacles to good nutrition

Teens need help making healthy lifestyle choices in a super-carbonated, fast-food world

05/14/2003 3:41 PM

05/16/2014 5:02 PM

There are plenty of potholes on the road to good nutrition. Even experts agree willpower alone is not enough; we need to work to remove obstacles standing in the way of a healthier, more active lifestyle.

OBSTACLE:
You eat at least one meal a day at a fast-food restaurant.
Causes
School activities often interfere with the family dinner hour so you tend to eat on the run.
You have huge calorie requirements so fast food may not affect your waistline.
You have increasing autonomy over much of your daily schedule, and you often have discretionary income at your disposal.
An easy way to socialize is to meet at a fast-food restaurant.
You or your friends often work in fast-food jobs where there's easy access to burgers and fries.
Solutions
If possible, plan to eat most dinner-time meals with your family.
People who eat together tend to eat slower and report higher satisfaction with their meals.
Make fast food a once-a-week excursion and choose foods that include vegetables and are low in fat and calories. Never supersize your order.
Socialize with friends at home, at the community center or at a venue that doesn't revolve around food.
You know it's working if...
... you are earning interest on your snack money and your clothes no longer smell like french fries.

OBSTACLE:
You have a hard time getting up early enough to eat breakfast before heading out to the school bus.
Causes
Teens need more sleep than adults and often would prefer to eke out a few more minutes of sleep than figure out what to eat to jump start their day.
Solutions
Have grab-and-go breakfast items - granola bars, leftover pizza or takeout, fruit smoothies, a peanut butter sandwich - ready to go the night before.
You know it's working if...
...you're grabbing as you go.

OBSTACLE:
You're a couch potato and you find it hard not to eat the whole bag of chips in a single sitting.
Causes
Highly sedentary activities such as TV, video games and computers encourage mindless snacking.
Solutions
Get off the couch and get more active. Walk, run, swim, bike, dance, play Frisbee.
You know it's working if...
...instead of calling a girlfriend on the phone you get together to walk and talk around the block.

OBSTACLE:
You don't drink milk so you may not be getting enough calcium in your diet.
Causes
You don't like the taste of milk.
You're a vegetarian.
You're lactose intolerant.
Solutions
Milk and other dairy products aren't the only source of calcium, but they are the best source because they contain the nutrients needed to use calcium and vitamin D. Hard cheeses and dairy products such as yogurt are low in lactose or lactose free.
For vegans, eat foods high in calcium including calcium-fortified orange juice, soy products and cereals, dark leafy greens and almonds. A supplement may be needed.
You know it's working if...
...the payback on this one will not be immediate, but if you stave off osteoporosis in your senior years, you'll know you built a strong bone matrix in your youth.

GET ACTIVE: Teens need 30 minutes a day of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, or 15-20 minutes of jogging.

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