Feeling Like a Brand New Parent…
As a mom of a new teen, I feel like I’ve entered a whole new world some days. A world that sometimes leaves me feeling like a brand new parent once again. There are many similarities between toddlerhood and adolescence. Bodies are growing like crazy, they are striving for independence, and building on their reasoning skills. They want to do it all by themselves. They want choice and they want freedom. And yet, they still need us perhaps more than they realize, or would give us credit for…at least for now. I think the credit giving starts to flow once we have the opportunity to become parents ourselves and realize what we put our parents through!
I’ve noticed recently that my teens palate has been changing once again. The kid who would happily munch on a plate of veggies, now groans at the suggestion. Ask him what his favourite foods are and you are likely to hear sushi, followed by candy but probably not in that order. I started thinking about toddlerhood and what meal times looked like then. I remember introducing my infant to a wide variety of produce to which he would gobble it up excitedly.
His First Birthday
For his first birthday, I made him a cake. Not one of those healthy cakes, but a full out cake with sugar and food colouring. Imagine me cringing as I write this now. His face was priceless as he reluctantly poked the cake with his finger. He eventually played in it a bit, but didn’t want to eat any. Fast forward a few months into toddlerhood and his favourite foods like sweet potatoes and broccoli are now shunned. I couldn’t figure it out at the time and didn’t realize what was happening. His tastes were shifting, he wanted to experience more of what this new world had to offer him. He was also establishing independence. We held steady and continued to offer a wide variety of foods – even sweet potatoes and broccoli. He eventually came round again and ate them.
At A Crossroads
Now, we are at a crossroads again. I am trying to figure out how to feed a very hungry teen in a way that we are both happy with. I am in the thick of this journey and can’t offer any tried, tested and true suggestions but here is what I have so far:
- ask your teen for menu input; encourage them to plan one meal per week and also help prepare it for the family; learning to cook, and do laundry before they leave the nest should be a priority
- ask them what their favourite fruits and veggies are; buy lots of those while still trying to expand their palate
- discover new ways to serve old foods – shredded carrots can be tucked into pasta sauce & added to wraps (and is also helpful for those with braces); baked oatmeal with Greek yogurt for snacks & breakfast; homemade granola
- tacos – either in whole grain wraps, shells or turned into a piled bowl of goodness are a great way to get loads of veggies on their plate, top it all with healthy fat & fibre from a dallop of guacamole and you’ve got a well balanced meal
- instead of buying freezer French fries, make your own from white or sweet potatoes; we have a few air flow baking sheets that create delicious crispy fries without deep frying
- make your own pizza bar – frozen or pizzeria is usually lacking in quality ingredients; make your own at home on whole grain pitas with lots of veggie toppings
- offer plenty of healthy snacks – hummus with veggies, guacamole with plain tortilla chips, trail mix, homemade granola bars, smoothies, a large bowl of washed fruit on the counter
- let them go grocery shopping with you and choose food too; chances are there selections may lean away from your ideal choices, but we are attempting to teach them how to self-regulate and make good choices when you are not around; the more you blacklist a particular food, the more appealing it suddenly becomes
I would love to hear your tips and tricks for feeding a teen. It takes a village to raise a child, and I’m fairly certain that this little village of mine has lots to offer. By the way, I asked my teen for permission before sharing this blog 🙂