Once you get to the age where you can choose what to eat and what not to eat, the healthy option can become second (or even third or fourth!) choice.
If you are a parent of teenagers you will understand that successfully encouraging them to eat a healthy diet can be a challenging journey; fraught with guilt, stress and discarded Pot Noodle packaging.
For many teenagers with busy social lives, eating healthy food just won’t be a priority and it can be tricky as a parent to influence their diet as they become more independent. Here are some keys points I’ve learned cooking with young-people that should help you get them eating more fruit and veg and most importantly – enjoying good food!
Handy Things to Remember:
- Some foods have more street-cred than others. Once you realise this, you can use it to work in your favour – spicy street-food, curries and anything reminiscent of a take-away often get a thumbs-up from fussy teens. The top 3 recipes that were requested by teenagers I’ve worked with are 1) pizza 2) kebabs 3) cake. There are lots of clever ways to reduce the fat, sugar and salt of these meals and cooking from scratch can transform them into much healthier options. Try making these tasty and not-so-naughty Veggie Bean Enchiladas.
- ‘Sneaky’ is still a technique that can work for you. You might think that teens are too smart to be fooled by broccoli “trees” and smiley face vegetable platters BUT sneaking veg is still an option. Blitzing extra cooked veg into pasta sauces, slipping salad into a ham roll and smuggling extra veg into a curry can all get past a hungry teen if you don’t make a fuss.
- A tomato is not always a tomato. I recently had a teenager I was teaching insist that she hated tomatoes. This was a bit of a problem for me as the class was making tomato salad. Sneaking was not an option. However – when faced with the choice of cherry, plum, beef or green varieties it turns out that by tasting and testing different varieties we actually discovered that she did like some tomatoes. Sometimes giving them a bit of control to experiment with different flavours works well. They might not like raw carrot, but roasted, steamed or mixed with some buttered potato it will taste like a different beast.
- Let them cook. Learning to cook is fantastic way to boost teen’s confidence and develop a healthy relationship with food. Let them search the internet for a recipe including their favourite foods and prepare a family meal. When they are starting out it doesn’t have to be super-duper-healthy, just the process of cooking from scratch is a positive step. The BBC has a great recipe search facility http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/
- Go easy on yourself. They will almost certainly go off-track sometimes. Remember that many teenagers have less than perfect diets as they assert their independence and rebel a little bit. Don’t panic – for most teens this will just be a dietary blip and providing you set them up with the right skills and encourage good eating habits, they will most likely come back to these values as adults.
To enquire about cooking classes for ages 13-17 contact Katie on 07588692955 or email firstname.lastname@example.org