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6 Ways for Teens to Access Healthy Food

LIVESTRONG.COM is dedicated to empowering and inspiring people of all ages to live active, healthy lives. In light of that mission, the Editorial Team has partnered with ShimmerTeen.com to create content that promotes health and wellness for teens.

Quinoa. Kale. Green Juices. Cauliflower. Rainbow chard. Health food (and healthy living) is having a serious moment. Even Beyoncé is wearing a "Kale" sweatshirt, and now you're ready to hop on the healthy-food bandwagon.

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Lifestyle trends aside, striving to make a balanced diet a part of your life can have benefits from mood to body image. But what do you do when your mom or dad doesn't understand the appeal of leafy greens and whole grains? They may have been (graciously) cooking you meals for your whole life, but wanting to take more control over your meals to make healthy choices is a valid request -- as long as it's done right. Here's how you can join Bey in the bulk-grains aisle, even if your parents are used to shopping in the junk aisle.

1. Go to the grocery store with your mom or dad.
This is what we call a win-win. You and your parents get to spend more time together, and you get to weigh in on the grocery choices. Keep in mind that they're the ones ponying up cash for the bill, so it's important to be respectful. But maybe when your parents reach for that bag of bottled dressing, you can point them in the direction of some simple olive oils and vinegars. Remember, your parents grew up before nutritional info was easy to access on the Internet. This is a great time to help them learn a little more about the foods they're eating.

[Read More: Getting in Shape Doesn't Have to Mean Losing Weight]

Most families also live on a budget, and your parents might be concerned about the cost of all the trendy health foods that you're dying to try. Buying healthier groceries can cost more than buying processed foods, but research has found that this cost increase is about $1.50 a day, an increase that may be possible for many families that decide to make healthy eating a priority.

You can also show your parents that being healthy doesn't have to be expensive. For example, eggs are a healthy and inexpensive way to add protein to your diet, and lentils cost just a few bucks for a bulk package.

2. Do some recipe research (and maybe even help cook dinner).
More likely than not, whoever makes dinner in your family has been making the same things for years. Try searching the Internet for healthy versions of some of the family's favorite meals. Your parents might be happy to mix it up and use some new ingredients, as long as it's clear how to use them. Plus, you can offer to spend time with your parents or even let them take the night off from cooking.

3. Buy some of your own healthy snacks.
If you have an allowance, part-time job or the occasional babysitting gig, why not use some of the cash to buy bulk almonds or a box of clementines? Some fruits and veggies (bananas and carrots, for example) are surprisingly cheap and may cost less than the snacks you normally buy.

If you're going for coffee with friends, consider getting tea or an iced coffee with a piece of fruit instead of the sugar-loaded Frappuccino and Danish. If you're grabbing something out of the vending machine, consider going for the bag of nuts or trail mix instead of the potato chips. Having healthy snacks around can help you make smart choices, even if your family's pantry is stocked with toaster pastries and candy bars.

4. Make the most out of schooltime meals.
If healthy change is slow going at home, make sure you own your choices in the lunch line. Stay away from highly processed foods, and stick to the protein and veggie offerings. If you're grabbing a snack, stick to nuts, fruits and snack bars that have protein and fiber.

[Read More: 7 Tips to Get Fit Without Going to the Gym]

5. Eat a healthy breakfast.
For energy and weight loss, the benefits of breakfast can't be understated. So instead of requiring your parents to drag you out of bed every morning, set your alarm a little earlier and make a balanced breakfast with protein to start the day off right.

6. Foster a collaborative vibe.
Your parents have been feeding and taking care of you since the day you were born. As you're trying to take charge of your diet, your new requests could become sources of conflict. It's understandable that asking for a different kind of food could be insulting to the person who's been preparing your meals your whole life.

As you're implementing changes, keep your parents in the loop and the lines of communication open. Explain your food goals, spend time together and get on the same team to make healthy eating a priority for your whole family.

--Kimberly

Readers -- Does your family eat healthfully? Do you go shopping with your family or help cook dinner? Do you have other ways to incorporate healthy foods into your diet? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Kimberly Wolf, M.Ed., is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of ShimmerTeen.com, a new health, wellness and lifestyle destination just for teenage girls. Kimberly graduated from Brown University, where her senior thesis exploring the history and evolution of sexual-health content in girls' magazines earned honors in Women's Studies. She also holds a master's degree in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she studied adolescent health and media. She is a national speaker and has been quoted on such websites as CNN.com, WebMD and Health.com. 

Follow ShimmerTeen on Twitter and Facebook


References
Nutrition Basics. Mayo Clinic. 15 Mar. 2015.

Rao, Mayuree, Ashkan Afshin, Gitanjali Singh, and Dariush Mozaffarian. Do Healthier Foods and Diet Patterns Cost More Than Less Healthy Options? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. British Medial Journal (2013): n. pag. BMJ Open. British Medial Journal. Web. 14 Mar. 2015.

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