Healthy snacks for teens

Teenagers are growing machines. They tuck away vast numbers of calories as they mutate from a cute kid, through the stages of puberty, into a fully grown adult. This is nature, and you can’t stop it.

A teenagers body undergoes a massive growth spurt, and needs fuel for this change with a sufficient amount of food. The body craves calories, and the easiest way to get them is through fatty and sugary foods. Unfortunately, these are the foods that nutritionists tell us are bad for us but you just try telling that to a hungry teen.

A teenager will graze throughout the day and live on snack food if you let him or her, and it takes quite a lot of clever management on the part of a concerned parent to make sure he or she gets a balanced, nutritionally sound diet.

One of the main ways to counter his or her dependence on junk food is to make sure there is always a range of alternatives in the house. Stop buying chips, chocolate and coke, and he/she won’t eat it. Nine times out of ten, a teenager will eat what’s in the fridge sooner than bother walking to the shops to buy an alternative.

It might take a bit more effort on your part to make sure the fridge and cupboards are stocked with healthy alternative snacks, but it’s only for a few years, and then the habit will be set. Allowing a teenager to live on junk food is child abuse just as allowing them to smoke or refusing to put the heating on in winter.

Here are some healthy snack alternatives that you can prepare in advance and leave for your teen to pick up on:

Muffins

Muffins are a great snack alternative. Check out the hundreds of recipes available from chocolate and almond to rhubarb and yogurt and even savory ones. Add a sprinkling of bran to the recipe for extra fiber, or choose a recipe with added fruit/vegetables like apple and cinnamon or chocolate and zucchini. Muffins freeze well, too.

Chopped veg and dips

This doesn’t sound very exciting at first, but think of spicy salsa, creamy raita and garlic hummus, and the ideas becomes more appealing. Make sure you prepare some carrot, pepper or cucumber sticks to go with this, and they’ll be chomping away at vegetables like you’ve never seen before.

Fruit salad

Make up some bowls of fruit salad and leave them in the fridge. Depending on which fruits you choose, these can be frozen and taken out of the fridge when you need them. Find small Tupperware dishes to make up individual portions and use an elastic band to secure a teaspoon or small fork to the top of each container just like in the snack bar, they don’t even have to think about getting a spoon, clever mom.

Salad

This isn’t a snack on its own, but leave a bowl of salad in the fridge for your teen to add to other snacks. Pitta pockets and tortilla wraps can be used to make up healthy snacks with the addition of chopped veg and mixed salad. Make sure that your fridge isn’t full of high-fat cheese and cooked meats for your teenager to choose from. Ask your delicatessen to help you to choose low-fat alternatives such as roast chicken pieces and reduced fat cheese spread.

Don’t forget that these snacks can be included in your teenagers lunchbox, too, and in the back-pack they take to sports sessions. Put in a bottle of water and a Satsuma, or a packet of parsnip chips and you might just stop your teen dropping in for a McDonald’s on the way home.