As a younger child, your teen naturally abided internal cues, eating when hungry and stopping when full. But your teen is not a little kid. Not only is she spending more time out of the house and making decisions on her own, but she is also likely to experience changes in her eating habits. In the face of external cues – boredom, habit, temptation, and newfound independence – your teen may override hunger signals, eating despite the absence of hunger and stopping when full instead of when satisfied. Here are simple tips for you!
Encourage your teen to recognize natural signals and respect their innate sense of what and how much food her body needs. Respecting internal signals demands patience, and requires your teen to pay close attention to his body and emotions.
Skipping meals may lead to overeating and increased snacking, which makes appetite regulation hard. Set a time for when your family can expect regular, satisfying meals, but remember, even though the clock says mealtime, respect that your teen may not be hungry. Trust him to listen to his body and to eat what he needs when he needs it.
Being distracted when eating can lead to higher caloric intake not only at the meal, but also in later meals. Help your teen resist the urge to multitask while eating and instead make mealtime a time to focus and relax. To practice awareness when eating, pay attention to what is happening at that moment:
The independence of being a teenager invites increased responsibility. Allow your teen to take charge by making mindful choices. Encourage them to honor hunger, to respect fullness, and to enjoy the pleasures of eating.
Teens are adventurous. Indulge their desire to explore by helping them experiment with new foods and flavors.
Though teenage years are the the beginnings of adulthood, teens still just want to have fun. Help your teen add nutritious foods to their diet instead of eliminating less healthy options. Intuitive eating isn’t about deprivation, but about listening to the body. Remember that everyone gets cravings. Your teen should recognize where those cravings come from before blindly giving in.
Research shows that cooking leads to increased enjoyment, confidence, and appreciation for food, suggesting that getting your teen in the kitchen could lead to improved dietary habits. Being familiar with the work that goes into meal preparation will likely lead to more thoughtful intake.
Regular meals are the cornerstone of healthy eating, but snacking is crucial to bridge the hunger gap. Help your teen identify between-meal hunger before it becomes extreme. Snacks can range from an apple to a slice of pizza, so encourage your teen to check in with their needs and to eat accordingly.
Teens love salty, sweet, and fatty foods for their flavor and ability to satisfy. Help your teen feel satisfied with nutritious flavor by enhancing foods with fresh herbs, citrus, and healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and olive oil. To further satiate hungry taste buds, offer a diversity of flavors in every meal.
Although at times it may seem that your teen wants nothing to do with you, your actions still matter greatly. Adopt habits of intuitive eating yourself and your teen is likely to follow along.
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