Healthy eating for your pre-teen and teen


As your pre-teen and teen become more independent eaters, they will have stronger ideas about what foods they like and don’t. Eating well is still just as important as when they were younger. They are still learning habits they will take into adulthood. 

Here are some ways to keep your pre-teen and teen healthy.


1. Eat the rainbow with fruits and veggies

A nutrient is something that helps your body stay healthy. Your teen needs a variety of nutrients. As they get older, they should be part of making meal choices. Give your teen input on shopping, the menu and the cooking to help create healthy adult behaviors. 

Ask your teen to choose a new fruit or vegetable of a certain color to add to a salad or stir-fry. The goal is five to nine servings of fruit or vegetables every day for you and your teen. 


2. Stock the house with healthy snacks

Sometimes your teen will get home from school or practice before you do. It’s OK for teens to snack, but snacks should be healthy. If there’s junk food in the house, your teen will probably choose to eat that. 

It is important that you fill your kitchen with healthy foods that are easy to prepare. Think of simple, healthy choices that are easy for your teen to make:

  • An apple and peanut butter
  • Low-sugar Greek yogurt with berries
  • Carrot sticks and low-fat dip or hummus

Pack a healthy snack if your teen has practice or an after-school event. That way, they don’t end up making an unhealthy choice.  

3. Breakfast is still an important meal

Middle and high school can be busy. It’s important that your teen has a good breakfast to make it through the day and get the most out of school. There isn’t always a lot of time in the morning. Try preparing a quick breakfast the night before. 

  • Make a yogurt, fruit and toasted oat parfait. Your teen can grab and eat it while getting ready in the morning. 
  • Make a healthy granola that they can eat on the way to school.
  • Look for healthy bars that are all fruit and nuts with no sugar or refined carbohydrates. (LÄRABAR® is a good brand.) They can be a quick on-the-go breakfast.  
  • Have more time in the morning? Try oatmeal with fresh fruit, or an omelet with veggies. Breakfast should always include at least one fruit or vegetable. Help your teen meet the five to nine servings per day needed for good health. 

4. Moving around is important to health

Suggest your teen get up and move around every day. It’s important to limit TV and video games or other play that doesn’t involve moving. Teach your teen a positive attitude towards being physically active. 

Try to come up with a list of outdoor and indoor activities that your teen can choose from. Include the whole family. Kick around a soccer ball. Go for a hike. Go rock climbing as a family. 

5. Show your teen

Teaching your teen to make healthy choices is great, but they also learn by watching you. Making healthy choices together as a family is the best way to teach your teen healthy behaviors.