9.25.2017

3 Tips For Eating Healthy as a Teen

(photo by Greg Raines)

Let's be real for a second, k? When you're a teenager, or you're still living at home, it can be really difficult to eat healthy. If you're not the primary one buying groceries, preparing meals, or paying for food, it can seem like you have little to no say about what's being put on your plate. And that can become super frustrating when you're trying to switch to a more healthy lifestyle.

I have struggled with this a bit myself, but I will admit I am blessed to have parents who support and understand (or, at least, try to understand) why I eat the way I do. But I acknowledge not everyone has that luxury. And, yeah, it can be confusing for some parents when all of a sudden you wanna stop eating bread and start drinking ginger kombucha.

So this one goes out to all the teens and twenty-somethings still living at home. I'm gonna give y'all some easy-to-implement-tips to try when you don't have full control over the food that's being stocked in your fridge. Les-a-go!

1. Speak up (and don't give in)
The only way to make known your wishes about what you want to eat is to just say it. Let the people around you know if you're trying to cut out sugar or intake more vegetables (in the nicest and least judgmental way possible) I think the most important part of this is to do so without a lick of criticism towards others. Worry about your own health and work on yourself. Actions speak louder than words. Above all, lead by example. You are only responsible for how you treat your body, no one else's. Keep your eyes on your plate.
But at the same time, don't let anyone pressure you into eating things you don't want to. For some reason, I've found this to be particularly difficult with relatives. People get confused and sometimes caught off guard when you turn down food. But stand your ground. If you don't feel like eating a slice of birthday cake that's being passed your way, then don't. Politely decline and move on. Don't make a big deal out of it. Put a smile on your face, say "No thank you!", and move on without any guilt because it's your body. 

2. Take initiative 
The only person who's responsible for your health is you. Not your mother or your doctor or, God forbid, the USDA. So it's up to you to make changes in your life if you want to see changes in your health. 

  • Garden! Growing your own food is one of the best ways to know exactly what's going into your body and one of the best steps to sufficiency. Not everyone has the resources to grow an entire vegetable garden in their backyard, but maybe there's room for a small one with just a few plants. Or maybe you get enough sunlight on your deck for a small pot of a tomato plant or herbs. Start small. Nurture your green thumb. 
  • Help out in the kitchen. In a world where we're so displaced from where our meals come from, there's something magical about preparing and cooking food for yourself. Get comfortable in the kitchen. Cooking is one of the most practical life skills you can learn, and knowing how to plan, prepare, and cook your own food gives you more control over what you're consuming. Maybe your mom doesn't feel like preparing two different meals for dinner, so ask her to set aside the ingredients for yours, and make it yourself! Have fun in the kitchen. Experiment and mess up and burn things and move on and learn.
  • Go grocery shopping. Even if you're not paying for the groceries yourself, get involved with the process of buying food. How much do bananas cost per pound? What does a ripe avocado feel like? Is there a brand of peanut butter that doesn't have added vegetable oils and sugar? Does my store offer grass-fed butter? Read ingredient lists. Make suggestions. Get well acquainted with your food. Become BFF's. 

3. Don't get overwhelmed
Trying to transform your diet into a more healthy one can seem like a heavy task. It feels like there's so many things you need to change, and it's frustrating when you can't do it all at once. It's easy to stress out over it. It can be easy to get overwhelmed. But, please, please, please, don't. Stress is one of the worst things for the body, and intensely worrying about the food you're eating can potentially have more impact on your health than the food itself. 
At the end of the day, do what you can. Create the healthiest life for yourself that you can now. Keep up these habits now, and eventually when you get older and have more control over your food, you'll already have practical habits to implement, and some experience in your pocket. 

stay lit fam,
Mel


(photo by Clarisse Meyer)

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