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As your teen comes closer to being out on his or her own, it’s especially important to make sure you arm him or her with lessons about healthy living. But how can you teach your teen about how to eat a balanced diet? Our team at AFC Urgent Care Baytown has some suggestions.

Give Your Teen the Tools to Eat Better

Spend time this week teaching your teen about food labels and what to look for when making food choices. The first thing to teach your teen? Whenever possible, choose whole foods that don’t even have food labels—like fruits and vegetables. When looking at packaged foods, show your child what to look for and what to avoid. Ideally, you should avoid excess sugar, sodium and fat, while choosing plenty of items that contain protein and the carbohydrates found in whole grains.

To demonstrate what a healthy food looks like (and doesn’t look like), nutrition-wise, look at some of your teen’s favorite foods with him or her. How much sugar, fat and sodium can be found in those foods? Compare those numbers with what’s recommended for a person’s daily intake.

Portion control is also an important topic to discuss with your teen. This is an area that even many adults don’t know a lot about. Portion sizes in the United States have ballooned in the last few decades. In many cases, what restaurants serve up today is at least double to triple what they would have even 20 years ago. Look up resources online that show a visual depiction of what serving sizes should look like for various food items—and talk with your child about why it’s important to moderate portion size.

As your teen prepares to go off to college or the “real world,” you can also teach him or her to use technology, including smartphone apps, to help maintain a healthy diet. There are apps where you can log food by scanning the bar code, and there are other apps where you can simply easily access nutritional information. All can come in handy when trying to eat a balanced diet.

The last tip may be the most important. Your teen is watching you whether you think so or not. If you practice healthy eating habits, your teen is more likely to do so as well.

Wondering whether your teen’s unbalanced diet has created any nutritional deficiencies? Visit AFC Urgent Care Baytown for a wellness check with lab work to make sure he or she is on track for a healthy life.