Well, we’re finally settled into a new schedule that’s packed with school team practices, extra curricular lessons, and after school clubs. Now that my kids are teens, I’ve learned a few things and have had to adjust my eating plan for them.
1. My teens go to sleep late. What’s happening is a change in their melatonin which is a hormone that regulates the wake-sleep cycle. In young kids, melatonin is released early in the evening, triggering an early bedtime. In adolescents however, the melatonin isn’t released until 9 pm or even 10 pm, meaning that my teens aren’t feeling sleepy until at least 11 pm.
The food fix: Keep plenty of grab-‘n-go foods in the kitchen. With dinner typically at 6 pm, my teens are often hungry for a snack around 9:30 or 10 pm. By creating an environment of healthy food choices such as bagels, tortilla chips, grated cheese, yogurt, fresh cooked meat, fresh fruit and fresh veggies, they can make their own smart snacks while I’m catching my ZZZs.
2. Teens like to sleep in. This is a corollary to lesson #1 above! My teens might have only have 15-20 minutes on a weekday to get up, eat breakfast, change, groom themselves, print out their homework assignment, pack their bags, text their friends, slap on some sunscreen, and then finally jump out the door.
The food fix: Keep it simple in the morning. 20 minutes is definitely doable in the mornings, but to keep things moving along, we focus on easy to eat, protein-filled breakfast options. Some of their favourites are Greek yogurt smoothies, fresh fruit, grilled cheese sandwiches and eggs.
3. Teens can have changing lunch times. Last year,my daughter’s lunch period was at 12:45 pm. This term, it’s at 11:15 am. Next term, her lunch period switches to 12:15 pm.
The food fix: Pack a snack.To ensure that she’s hungry for her early lunch, we try not to have an overly big breakfast. By the time 3:30 rolls around though, she’s absolutely starving, so we pack a little something extra in her lunch bag for those after school munchies.
4. Teens like to buy their lunch. Like all teens, my crew is becoming quite independent and enjoys the freedom to buy their lunch from the school cafeteria or nearby quick service restaurant.
The food fix: We follow the 80-20 rule. On most days of the week, my teens will bring a packed lunch to school. Once a week, they buy their lunch. We talk about healthy choices and money sense. But I never judge them on their choices. I do however, sneak in an extra fruit or veggie at breakfast and suppertime!