As a parent, I want my teenager to eat well and grow up to be healthy. I know that he depends on me to maintain the structure of rewarding family meals. I want to make meals a priority, keep mealtimes pleasant and use the time for connecting. But when do I take leadership and when do I let go of the controls?
Thanks to Ellyn Satter’s Eating Competence Model and her books ‘Secrets of feeding a healthy family’ and ‘Division of Responsibility’ a few of my questions were answered:
What is a Competent Eater?
- Competent eaters are confident, comfortable and flexible with eating. They are self-trusting about getting enough to eat of enjoyable and nourishing food.
How do I raise a Competent Eater?
- Accept the idea of being a positive role model for your teenager
- Choose and prepare balanced meals and snacks
- Create a structure for eating three meals a day and a snack in-between meals (if hungry)
- Make eating times pleasant
- Have teenagers participate in the decision-making process
- Build practical skills and encourage an interest in food: do meal planning and shopping together
- Experiment with food preparation and easy recipes – (have a look at the Halloumi & Vegetable Stir Fry in the recipe section)
The teenage phase is a time of transition. Habits are formed that persist into adult life. Helpful habits, such as fun activities to build fitness, a healthy diet and a positive body image can improve school performance and overall well being.
What is a Healthy Diet?
The word ‘DIET’ means ‘DAILY CHOICES’ or ‘DAY-TO-DAY-LIVING’.
The choices we make every day can determine our health. If the focus is on BEING HEALTHY, many daily rituals can help us to stay well. As parents, we can help our teenagers to focus on better choices and teach them about consequences. Shifting the focus on HEALTH rather than on WEIGHT management (weight loss / weight gain) can help build a positive relationship with food on the long run.
What kind of food do we choose?
Teenagers need enough nourishing food and fluids during growth spurts to support bone growth, hormonal changes and organ and tissue development, including the brain.
Choosing a variety of colourful, balanced meals and snacks will provide enough energy, protein, fat, fibre and other important nutrients, especially Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and B-vitamins.
Lunch Box Choices:
- Pack enough clean water to prevent teenagers from buying sugary drinks at the tuck shop.
- Add fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, peanuts, popcorn or crackers and cheese instead of sweets, salty crisps and deep-fried food.
- Make a smoothie with fresh fruit and yoghurt for an afternoon snack instead of drinking an energy drink.
“The joy in eating is about wellness. The way to achieve children’s wellness is to let them feel good about their eating.” Ellyn Satter
More information about Competent Eating Courses – Martie Hofmeyr – 0823261505