How to Help Teenagers Cut Back on Food

by A. Elizabeth Freeman

    Food can be a delicate topic with teenagers. Some teenagers worry that they eat too much food but are actually eating just the right amount. Other teenagers eat too much and need to cut back to become healthier and lose extra weight. Some teenagers develop unhealthy eating habits and seem to subsist on junk food. If your teenager needs to improve her diet and cut back on food, you can help her to do so by being encouraging and helping her plan meals.

    Step 1

    Eat at least four meals at home together with your teenager and other family members each week. When you eat at home, you control the portion sizes and what sorts of foods your family eats. Home-cooked meals usually have much fewer calories and less sugar than meals at a restaurant.

    Step 2

    Serve food to your family yourself. Don't set everything out on the table buffet-style or allow people to scoop out as large a portion as they want. An adequate portion size for meat is about the size of a deck of cards, while healthy portion sizes for vegetables are about the size of your fist. Try using smaller plates during meals so that it looks like there is more food when there is actually less.

    Step 3

    Switch from junk foods to healthy snack options. Stock your kitchen full of fruits, vegetables with light ranch dip and whole-grain crackers and snacks. Your teenager will feel more full when she eats foods high in nutrients and fiber. These foods also usually have fewer calories than junk foods such as chips and candy. Even if your teenager doesn't need to lose weight, trading in junk foods for healthy foods will improve her overall health and well-being. Stop bringing any sweets or junk-food snacks into your house.

    Step 4

    Model the food habits you want to see in your teenager. Don't tell your teenager not to eat candy and then eat chocolate bars yourself. Eat reasonable portion sizes at meals and don't spend all day or night snacking mindlessly.

    Step 5

    Fill your refrigerator with bottles of water and other zero-calorie drink options such as flavored seltzer and sparkling water. Drinking sugary sodas and juices can add to a teenager's weight problem and increase food cravings. Many teenagers shed excess weight simply by drinking water instead of sugary drinks.

    Step 6

    Avoid banning foods for your teenager. You can stop bringing certain foods home, but don't tell her she can never eat a piece of cake or enjoy a bag of chips. Teach healthy habits at home so that your teenager is less likely to choose junk foods while she's out.

    About the Author

    Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for OffOffOnline.com and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an Master of Fine Arts in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.

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