Feeding your Hungry Teen

Feeding your Hungry Teen

If your teen is eating you out of house and home remember, their hunger is real – they’re growing and responding to natural feelings of hunger.

Because of socialising, school, work and sport, your teen will spend more time away from home for meals and snacks.

And if they have their own money, you’ll find you’ve even less control over what they eat.

If you’ve set up a good structure around eating – regular meals and snacks, a variety of foods and no pressure on kids to eat – just keep this going. Trust your teen to nourish her- or himself outside the home.

They’ll use what they experience at home when making choices, even if these are sometimes different to yours. It’s all part of learning how to eat as an adult.

If you don’t have a good structure around eating, it’s not too late to start. Making time each week for at least a few family meals is a good first step.

It’s also a good time to teach your teen some basic cooking skills.

Keep basic items like bread, wraps, cereal, grated cheese and chopped salad at home for snacks that help satisfy their hunger – and keep the fruit bowl filled.

Tips for feeding teens

  • Cook extra – leftovers are always good for snacks.
  • Make family mealtimes flexible – if a breakfast catch up is better for your family, do that.
  • Make it affordable – keeping teenagers full can be expensive:
    • buy frozen fruits and vegetables
    • staples like bread, pasta, oats, rice and nuts are filling
    • offer vegetarian options as meat can be costly
    • bulk-up meat dishes with beans or lentils.
  • Help them organise snack options like extra sandwiches, trail mix, chopped fruit or crackers and cheese to take with them.
  • If children buy their own snacks, suggest filling and nourishing options like sushi, salad rolls and jacket potatoes.

Snack ideas

  • Smoothies – make with yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and your choice of milk. Add extra nutrition and flavour by including nut butters, nuts or seeds.
  • Boiled eggs.
  • Vegetable muffins.
  • Quiche (egg and vegetable slice) – cook in muffin tins for snack-sized serves.
  • Wraps – great with salad or even a banana and nut spread.
  • Pasta and tuna with tomato pasta sauce.
  • Tinned soups – bulk out with lentils, canned beans, frozen vegetables and pasta.
  • Toasted sandwiches – add tomatoes and roasted vegetables.

Keep your thoughts about their food choices or amounts to yourself – teen bodies are changing shape. If your teen asks, tell them about how their body is growing and reassure them it’s quite normal.