Junk food is now everywhere on our planet. High in calories but low in nutritional value, junk food is available in the most unlikely places: museums, cruise ships, city parks, and school hallway vending machines. It is inescapable in grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.

In all children 12-18 years old, critical growth, bond building and amassing of nutrients such as calcium are taking place. Your grandchild’s body will never be as efficient at performing those functions to ensure a healthy future as it is while they are teens. Eating large amounts of junk food has far-reaching consequences.

Here are just a few:

--> Teens have greater access to junk food and more control over how they spend money than your younger grandchildren. Teens who fill up on empty calories will have less appetite for a nutritious main meal, and it’s unlikely they are taking in all the nutrients necessary for growth and development. Key nutrients such as calcium from dairy and protein from meats help bones and muscles strengthen and grow.

--> Teens who don’t consume enough of the needed nutrients tend to feel fatigued and can’t keep it healthy. This can lead to poor concentration and test performance. Instead, encourage them to eat “brain foods” such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables and dairy foods that are rich in vitamin D and calcium.

--> Weight gain is a consequence of regularly consuming high-fat, high-sugar and high-calorie junk food. Kids who become overweight or obese during adolescence are likely to maintain an unhealthy weight as adults, with associated healthy consequences that include heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, poor self-esteem and even cancer. By encouraging healthy food choices during your grandchild’s teenage years, you can give them a higher chance of a healthy adult life.
Tips To Keep It Healthy

Tips to help your teen grandchild eat more healthfully:

If you must have fast-food, choose a fast-food restaurant that offers healthier choices. And no matter where you are, opt for food and beverages that are high in nutrients. Avoid sweetened beverages and fried foods. Good choices include: freshly squeezed orange juice, whole-wheat bagel, bean burrito, pizza topped with veggies, grilled chicken sandwich on a whole grain bun.

Look for products low in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined grains and partially hydrogenated oils. Choose a 100 percent whole-wheat cracker made with canola oil, for example or snack on a cheeses and fruit plate instead of a bowl of cheese puffs.
Limit TV viewing when the grandkids visit. Certain shows seem to attract more junk food commercials than others, so you might want to discourage your grandkids from watching these shows.

Smart for Life has a terrific kid’s program that makes it easier and convenient to keep it healthy and delicious tasting snacks!