Parents want their children to grow up to be fit and strong. One way to ensure their wellbeing is to encourage your teen to make the right food choices. If they learn to eat healthy foods at home, they are much more likely to continue eating in the same manner when they move away from home.

There are a number of ways to encourage your teen to make the right food choices. One of the most important is to have regular family meals. Many families have busy schedules these days. One parent has to work late, teens have afterschool jobs or sports, and even children have activities planned. It’s no wonder families often eat at different times and become disconnected from one another.

The benefits of eating meals together as a family are varied. Eating together gives your family the time it needs to reconnect. You have more control over what foods your family eats. Your teens are also less likely to become involved in drugs and alcohol.

Another way to encourage your teen to eat the right foods is to be a role model for them. If they see you eating junk food on a regular basis and yet you tell them to eat foods which are good for them, they could see you as a hypocrite. However, the reverse is also true. If your teen sees you making good food choices, they’ll see how important you feel eating healthfully is and will be more likely to follow suit.

To make family meals more appealing you could make the suggestion that your teen invite a friend over for dinner once a week. Then their friend could remain at the house studying, or if it’s on a weekend, relaxing. If your teen likes to cook, it could be a great opportunity for them to show off their own culinary skills.

Does having a family meal mean you have to have something out of the ordinary? Absolutely not! In fact, as long as you’re together around a table sharing a meal you could be having delivery and the benefits would be the same. If you do choose to have pizza delivered, order something without all kinds of meats; choose more vegetables to make the pizza more healthy. Or you could choose to make your own healthful pizzas at home.

Keep in mind your teen will probably require snacks in the afternoon. Rather than ban them altogether, stock up on healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Low-fat yogurt, air popped popcorn and wheat crackers with cheese are other snacks you can feel good about letting your teen have.

Give your teen some say about what you eat as a family. Of course you’ll want to quell their desire for nothing but junk food, but if they have more input into what you eat they may be less likely to fight you so hard. Teach them how to make a meal plan and shop for groceries so they’ll be prepared when it’s time to leave home.

Finally, as a means to encourage your teen to make the right food choices, explain to them the benefits of choosing foods carefully. Fruits, vegetables, low-fat, non-fried foods will provide teens with the nutrients to be at their best. Fast and fried foods may taste good but they can make a teen feel sluggish or even sick. Therefore, it is to their benefit to choose foods which are good for them. If you follow these suggestions, they’re sure to come around and thank you for caring.