In my previous podcast about food battles I was talking about troubles with younger kids; however, parents of teens and tweens also tend to have issues with food. I’m going to talk about what you can do with issues like kids skipping meals, the emotional instability having “hangry” kids and how to react to different types of diets teens try. I hope you enjoy it!
First, what to do about kids who skip meals?
We’ve all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Well, so many teenagers just skip it! That’s not healthy at all and we know it. Or, how about teens who just eat French fries for lunch at school. Or just a piece of cheese pizza, day after day. They are all growing still! Don’t they understand their brains need veggies and Omega 3s? They need really protein, not just carbs, right? However, lecturing doesn’t change a thing, does it? Sometimes we might be able to guilt then into eating a granola bar on their way out the door to school in the morning but it’s only due to our nagging, not because they believe us. Sigh…
What do we do? We have to let go. Just let them own their own food. Our job is the same as when they were little, we provide healthy choices and they decide what and how much. We can tempt them with their favorite dinner if we want but we have to restrain ourselves from being upset if they decide not to eat it.
We need to them do this as long as you don’t see negative food behaviors like anorexia or bulimia. They are serious conditions that need medical help right away. But, as long as you’re not feeling a medical emergency is imminent, just let it go and give them love and encouragement. A dear friend had a son who only ate a certain type of pasta and doritos every day from about middle to high school. He was known as the Dorito Kid. He’s out of college now, has a great job and loves the outdoors. He’s fine and mom was wise to bide her time with his eating.
What about “hangry” kids and the emotions it creates?
If they turn into “hangry” monsters when their blood sugar levels go off the charts try to get them some food if they’ll let you but don’t nag, just offer.
Then, just l like I talked about in Podcast #2 about Teens and emotion, you want to wait until they are calm, maybe a day or two later, and talk to them about what you noticed and how it affected you. Something like: “Gee, you were really out of sorts yesterday. It seems like you were hangry and really grumpy. Can we talk about that?” You’re looking for them to say “yes” so that you can have a discussion. Keep in mind that a discussion is different than a lecture. You need to ask questions, not tell your child what to do. Ask them how they felt and what they could do about it. Would they like some suggestions? If you keep a loving and empathetic tone and allow them to own the problem of their hangriness, things will go much better than if we just sit them down and we are frustrated and angry.
How about kids who have weird diets?
These years seem to be ones where our kids want to experiment with lots of behaviors and sometimes it has to do with food. Maybe you’re a family who eats meat and all the sudden your teen decides to be a vegetarian and upsets your whole meal planning. Or maybe they go on a Keto diet or a Bulletproof Diet or any number of other fad diets. It can be frustrating from a parental point of view especially if you think it’s not healthy.
My encouragement would be to be interested in why your child is choosing to change and maybe even experiment with them by looking up recipes and cooking with them. I would not change my entire family over to the new plan but I think showing respect for their new ideas and having a bit of fun with them can really help build a positive relationship. One son of mine did the Bullet Proof Diet for a while – coffee with butter in it wasn’t my favorite but I did try it for a while. He moved from that to some sort of protein powder body building diet and I let him use his own money and he did his own research on what to use.
Another friend of his was on vacation with us and was very dedicated to the Keto Diet which was super challenging but it I used it as a learning experience and even tried it for a while myself. It wasn’t for me but I think having an attitude of allowing our teens to expand our horizons really builds bonds in ways that grow stronger and stronger over time.
That’s all for now! I hope you find it useful thinking about teens and food issues. If you have more questions about teens and food that I didn’t cover, I’d love to hear from you!