Teens are faced with a myriad of physical changes and academic demands, all while being bombarded by what their peers are doing and now, a quarantine. And in the midst of all this, the body’s most critical organ – the brain – is still developing, says Dr. Neville Golden, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition and chief of adolescent medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
“If [teens] don’t eat right, they can become irritable, depressed [and] develop problems such as obesity and eating disorders – and those have a whole host of psychological consequences,” Golden says, adding that proper nutrition can help prevent and manage these conditions.
It’s normally so hard to control what a teenager eats. They eat out, at school, at friends’ houses, etc. Moreover, they are hungry all the time! Now is your chance to help them eat healthy. Not only is this important to fight the coronavirus, but it’s also important for peace in your home. What we eat has a huge impact on our moods and behavior.
Here are some nutrition hacks to incorporate into your household. Even if you start with one, you’re positively impacting your teen’s health.
- Get your teen to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Make it a family challenge!
- Cut added sugar from the house and substitute fruit or apple sauce for dessert.
- Add mashed cauliflower to mashed potatoes.
- Blend spinach into a pasta or pizza sauce, so it’s unnoticed but present.
- Add Vitamin D and C supplements to help build immunity and contribute to brain health.
Following these hacks may make your household a much more peaceful place during this time. Did you know that only 7% of U.S. children are eating the recommended servings of vegetables each day? Compare this number to the increased suicide and mental health challenges in our kids these days, and you’ll see a valuable way we can fight depression and anxiety with our teens.
If you’re feeling thwarted by busy schedules and picky eaters and/or feeling overwhelmed with meal prepping and cooking, consider grabbing food from a Community Garden and putting out fresh/raw veggies and fruit for your children before a meal if they’re circling like vultures.
If you would like to have healthier options at home but are unable to go grocery shopping at this point, let us know! We have resources ready to help! If you’re struggling to put food on the table, here are some great options in the Triangle to help you and your family during this challenging time. The Local Hope Community Church collects food every Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 5pm and distributes food to those in need on Fridays from noon to 3pm.