Teaching Teens and Young Adults About Healthy Food Choices

A basic understanding of healthy eating and food preparation can equip teens and adults living with disability to make healthier choices with greater independence. Whether it’s learning how to use a microwave or prepare their food, understanding portion sizes, or knowing the importance of eating vegetables, they can quickly develop a valuable skill-set around their food and diet.

In this post, we offer a few simple tips for helping your teens, young adults or grown-up children improve their skills and knowledge, and encouraging them to make positive food choices.

Using a microwave

The simple act of using a microwave to heat up meals can be a very beneficial skill to have. Once someone has got to grips with how to operate the machine, they can enjoy the independence of getting their own meals ready in a safe environment.

Start with a quick overview of the different buttons and functions, encouraging them to experiment with time and heat settings, and practice under your supervision.

Explain that microwaves heat food from the outside first - so even though the surface may seem hot to the touch, the food may not be fully cooked through.

Make them aware that microwaves can be very powerful, so they’ll need to think carefully about how much time is needed to ensure they don’t burn or overcook their food.

Remind them that different foods will take different amounts of time to heat up. It’s important to open the door regularly to check on their food.

Understanding portion control

A “portion” is the amount of food served at each snack or meal. Making sure portion sizes are right for the individual is a very important part of healthy development – too small and the diet will be lacking in nutrients; too big and there is a risk of becoming overweight, which can result in a number of serious health concerns.

Teaching your teen or young adult about portion sizes will help them understand what a healthy amount of food looks like, as well as getting them used to eating the correct quantity of each food type.

As a general rule, a healthy plate should be split up as follows:

- ½ vegetables

- ¼ lean protein

- ¼ grains

 Source: http://www.buildhealthykids.com/servingsizes.html

Filling up on veggies

Ok, so we know that not everyone is a fan of the green stuff, but with veggies offering up so many essential vitamins and nutrients for our bodies, it’s important to ensure that every meal has plenty of healthy vegetables.

  • Always make sure there are lots of veggies on the plate with each meal, to encourage “filling up” on greens. At least half of the plate should be taken up by healthy veg.
  • For selective eaters, make veggies more appealing by using different coloured vegetables to create an exciting and colourful plate of food. (If your child is a selective eater, check out our blog post on how to introduce new foods to their diet).
  • Suggest that everyone at the table eats their veggies first, before the other items on their plate.

Basic food preparation

Having involvement in mealtime prep can help a person living with disability develop a greater understanding of their food and what goes into the meals they eat.

Depending on the individual, this involvement could encompass simple activities such as washing and preparing vegetables, opening tins and packets, or setting the dinner table.

Get started with Hit 100’s complete food and nutrition services

An NDIS-registered provider, Hit 100 takes the stress out of mealtimes by offering a delicious range of healthy and nutritious meals, delivered straight to your door. Plus, our qualified dietitians can provide you with expert advice and guidance on healthy eating for the whole family. Contact us today to start your journey to a healthier, happier life.