Eating for Life

9 ways to get teens off the junk food track

  • Make "Read it before you eat it!" your family's snack time slogan. Learn to read nutrition labels and find out what's really in the food.
  • Make healthy foods fun, teen-friendly and easy to grab. Designate a special snack shelf in the refrigerator and cupboard and keep it stocked with healthy snacks. Try to serve healthy foods when your teens are hungriest - after school and before dinner.
  • Don't leave home empty-handed. Stock the car or backpack with your own healthy convenience foods such as baby carrots, fruit, cheese sticks, popcorn, peanut butter and crackers, trail mix, pretzels, pudding or yogurt.
  • Make family time healthy time. Visit farmers markets, orchards, pick-your-own farms. Teach them how to prepare healthy meals. Grow a garden. Exercise as a family.
  • Make breakfast the most important meal of the day. Eat anything that's nutritious - whether it's leftovers, warmed-over pizza or bean burritos.
  • Get real with serving sizes. Avoid temptation to order supersize meals. Share meals or take home the extra for lunch the next day.
  • Return soda to its rightful place as a once-in-awhile treat. Make your own natural sodas with a combination of seltzer and fruit juice. Let teens pocket the money they would have spent on soda.
  • Turn the TV off and get them moving. The teen will be exposed to fewer ads for junk food, too.
  • Try to have simple and nutritious family meals several times a week. Try to make it a relaxed and comfortable time for eating. Save arguments, criticisms, TV and phone calls for another time.