Teenage Eating Habits

Despite initiatives to encourage healthy eating habits, children are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than years ago. That’s what a new study from the University of Minnesota has found and kids are supposed to eat between two and four servings a day.

It's been the nagging mantra many of us associate with meals as a child: eat your vegetables.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found one more aspect that teens rebel against their parents.

According to a survey of 2,000 teens in 1999 and a follow up in 2004, the same group, now in high school, was eating almost a serving less of fruits and vegetables.

"Fortunately, the teenage years don't last forever,” said Susan Miller, a Sacred Heart Hospital Dietitian.

She speaks from her own experience when she says parents have to pick their battles. She suggests families make a habit early on of eating together with healthy options.

"We definitely learn our eating habits and patterns as small children and we carry those with us throughout life," said Miller.

In the meantime, there are ways parents can passively encourage healthy eating. Stock snacks like fresh fruits and veggies, or even cereal. Avoid the obvious, or buy them in small quantities.

"Of course, teens have a lot of mobility and they have access to it, but you don't have to help them make those choices. Let them spend their own money on it and see how long those will actually last."

Schools are supporting the habits with healthier options, including in vending machines. If you built a good foundation, the food pyramid will be easier for your kids to follow.