SAULT STE MARIE, ON --- December 1, 2-11 ---The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that one third of high school students do not eat vegetables each day and more than one fourth do not have a serving of fruit each day. Consider youth obesity levels are at an all-time high this may not be so surprising; however it is distressing.
The solution seems simple: get teens to eat more vegetables, but as we know from our own experience that is easier said than done. Teens tend to be influenced by their peers, hang out in environments where processed foods are abundant and, in general, have other things on their mind other than their health.
So what can be done? Fortunately, there are a few relatively easy ways to help people - even teens – eat healthy:
Normally I would recommend consuming a “rainbow” assortment of fruits and vegetables; however we need to be consuming vegetables first for that to even matter. Just getting teens to eat vegetables is the first step – a few vegetables are better than none. Behavioural research has shown that our perception of food changes after repeated exposures. Over time we become more accepting of foods and our taste aversion to foods wanes.
2. Undetectable Puree
A study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that children who ate vegetables that were pureed and combined into their foods ate the same amounts of food as before and reported no dissatisfaction with their meals. If it worked for children, why can’t it work for teenagers – or anyone, for that matter?
3. Work the Blender
Blending is quick and can actually be a fun, easy way to prepare food. And it’s easy to come up with great tasting concoctions that are full of healthy greens. Teens can create recipes they will enjoy. Here’s a vegetable juice recipe to get started with:
1 lbs large carrots (washed and peeled)
1/2 lemon (peeled)
few green leafs such as red lettuce or carrot greens
4. Pay With Cash
This one applies if your teenager has a job or an allowance. Studies have shown that college students who purchase food using cash actually buy less processed food, consume fewer calories and eat more produce compared to the college students who purchase food with their debit card. This may seem strange, but think about what is happening subconsciously. Paying with cash often causes us to think more about the purchase. We psychologically hold on to the cash more so than the card. The cash is more tangible.
Making lifestyle changes can be difficult, but hopefully the above tips can make the healthiest choice an easy one, too.
Candice Esposito, ND
For Lake Superior News