You play an important role as guide and coach for your child when they make choices about eating, exercise and screen time. To be successful requires you to lead by example. The choices parents make ultimately impact the decisions their teens make when it comes to healthy habits. Here are eight healthy habits to get your family started on the road to a healthy lifestyle:
Set limits for screen time. Decide on the amount of time your teen is allowed to spend on their phone, watching TV or playing computer or video games. Parents should limit their own screen time as well.
Exercise together. Go for a walk or bike ride as a family. Visit KidsHealth for more ideas and information.
Eat three healthy meals a day. Include at least four servings of fruits, five servings of vegetables and four servings of dairy products. Prepare school lunches and dinners together.
Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after any exercise. This will help replace what is lost from sweating. Water is best. Avoid flavored sports drinks and soft drinks that are loaded with sugar.
Eat less junk food and fast foods. They are often full of fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar.
Get adequate sleep. Teens should get 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
Have a hard conversation. Talk to your teen about the health risks related to smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or doing drugs, and sexual activity.
Make a meal together. This helps encourage teens to make healthier choices while spending important time together. The bonus: They learn how to prepare their own meals!
Habits formed during your teen years can last a lifetime. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services/Office of Adolescent Health has some recommendations for parents on the best ways to support teens and build healthy habits.
Teens’ bodies grow and change a lot so they need more calories to support these changes. For parents, promoting good eating habits means more than helping teens manage their calories. Teens need to get a good balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, dietary fat, vitamins, and minerals. Most teens get twice the amount of protein they need, but not enough vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin D.
Being active goes with good nutrition to help teens develop strong bones, muscles, and joints. Generally, exercise does not need to be difficult or strenuous for teens to benefit – and exercising too much can hurt them. Unfortunately, nearly half of all teens are not active enough, and 14 percent don’t exercise at all.
Last review date: February 1, 2019