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Food and Fitness in High School

With puberty behind them, high school-age children are at a significant juncture in their physical and psychological state when it comes to health and nutrition.
 This is a time when external factors heavily influence the way they feel about their bodies. From comparing themselves physically to their friends and classmates, to enduring criticism from family members about their appearance, teens put a heavy emphasis on how the world sees them.Nothing plays more into our children’s psyche than the media. Media images and messages about having the “perfect body” are often distorted and, unfortunately, teens are extremely vulnerable to these messages.
Teach your high school child to decipher the media messages they come in contact with every day.
Help educate them on the fact that what they see in the media has often been manipulated and is usually unrealistic in regards to eating, beauty and weight.In as much as high school is a time when your child is influenced by outside messages,it’s also a perfect time to teach him to take an active role in his nutrition and fitness.Identity development is critical at this age. Teens are pulling away from their parents and developing themselves. And, with their fast-paced lives of activities, school and sports, it can be easy for them to lose sight of healthy habits.As they transition into a more independent lifestyle, it’s important for parents to maintain and encourage guidance when it comes to nutrition, sleep and exercise.
Reading list
  • “Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs” by Rozanne Gold
  • “Teenage Fitness: Get Fit, Look Good, and Feel Great!” byKathy Kaehler
  • “Winter girls” by Laurie Halse Anderson
Possible benefits
  • Improvement in overall health and wellness
  • Stronger immune system
  • High self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Reduced risk of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating)
  • Lower rates of depression and anxiety
  • Improved connections with family and friends
  • Decreased risk of fad dieting
  • Reduced risk of substance abuse
  • What healthy food and fitness look like
  • Well-balanced meals, daily vitamins, consistent exercise and sleep.
  • Healthy balance, variety and moderation in food.
  • Recommended amounts of calcium and iron.
  • Moderate intake of sugars, caffeine and salt.
  • Choosing healthy options at school and fast-food restaurants.
 What you can do
  • Decipher media messages. Uncover the misconceptions about the “perfect body” in advertising.
  • Foster an environment of size acceptance and diversity in shapes, which helps to promote a child’s own self-acceptance and well being.
  • Give teens the freedom of healthy choices and make them available and accessible. For example, use a fixings bar approach; pasta bar, taco bar,salad bar.
  • Teach your teen healthy cooking habits by encouraging them to be responsible for grocery shopping and cooking one dinner, entrée or side dish a week.
  • Build in family activity time to encourage an active life style as a family.
  • Limit screen time: TV, computer, video games, phone, etc.
Conversation starters
  • Did you know that exercise is a great way to relieve stress and increase your energy?
  • What’s your favorite way to relieve stress?
  • Are you aware that when you exercise, you need to drink water before, during and after working out?
  • Did you know that hunger distracts you in the classroom?
  • Did you know after three hours without food, your blood sugar levels drop and can’t support a healthy brain and nervous system? Do you know what foods are good for your brain?
  • Did you know that if your iron intake is inadequate you may have problems remembering what you have learned?
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