Teaching your son healthy eating habits from an early age can set him up for life. According to Nutrition Australia, boys aged between 14 to 18 years of age should be eating five and a half serves of vegetables per day, yet research suggests that Australian teenagers consume more junk food than any other age group. Educating your son and helping him develop lifelong healthy eating habits will be beneficial throughout his life.
Here’s how you can start:
1. Always have a healthy snack within reach
Stock up on things like healthy muesli bars, fresh fruit or vegetable snacks that are readily available for your son. Packing a healthy and balanced lunch box is a simple yet effective way of introducing healthy eating habits from an early age. If your son is regularly buying from the canteen, it’s important to discuss the healthy canteen items available. Find some quick and easy snack inspiration here.
2. Encourage your son to help you cook
Cooking provides an opportunity to talk about health, ingredients and food labels. Your son may have homework, sports or extra-curricular commitments, however, allocate a time once a week or fortnight to invite him to help you cook in the kitchen. Getting him involved with the grocery shopping will help his learning further.
3. Avoid offering food as a reward
It’s important to reasonably merit achievements and good behaviour, but avoid implementing a food-reward system, as this can quickly turn into an unhealthy routine and place special emphasis on the wrong foods. Practise verbal recognition or other non-food incentives, such as an additional 10 minutes of free time after homework.
4. Practise what you preach
You don’t have to be perfect all of the time — it’s all about balance, but remember that one of the biggest influences on your son’s eating habits is you. Reinforce the nutrional benefits of the food you are both eating and make sure your son is seeing you take the time to eat breakfast or pack a healthy lunch. Set the example for healthy eating. Your son will slowly but surely begin to develop similar eating habits.
Your son isn’t always going to like new foods first time around. Be patient, use trial and error and keep providing new healthy options. Further to healthy eating habits, the Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest that adolescents should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked regularly.
At Christ Church Grammar School, we support and encourage boys to live a healthy lifestyle so they can perform at their best in every aspect of life. If you are interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest insights on raising boys, subscribe to our monthly enewsletter.