Is your teen “always hungry”? Nutritionist and mum-of-three, Kathleen Alleaume shares her expert tips for taming your teen’s constant tummy rumbles.

There’s a good reason why appetites soar as your child enters the teenage years. This stage is a period of rapid growth and development, so a balanced diet with the right amount of nutrients and energy is essential to support bone growth, hormonal changes and organ and tissue development, including muscles and brain.

Teenager food independence 

This is a time where teens often assert their independence and start to decide what they want to eat is among many decisions they begin to make on their own.

However, according to the latest Australian Health Survey, adolescents notoriously have the ‘worst’ diets amongst the rest of the population.

Results showed that they fail to meet their daily recommended amounts of fruit, vegetables, and grains and consume a higher intake of discretionary ‘treat’ foods.

Having said that, it’s essential that parents continue to role model healthy eating habits. Positive experiences about food in the home where most of the meals take place will help shape their eating habits later in life.

Keep the fridge and pantry stocked with portable or easy to grab options.

Here are Kathleen’s top tips…

Get off to a good start

Starting each day with a nutritious breakfast at home is the perfect opportunity to get fibre-rich carbohydrates for a morning energy boost to feed active bodies and minds.

Create a quick breakfast with staying power using protein and carb combos, such as fruit smoothies, overnight oats, whole grain cereal with milk or whole grain bread with boiled eggs or nut butters.

Set the scene

To avoid food battles, create a healthy food environment by making a wide variety of wholesome foods available in the house. This practice makes healthy choices easy choices.

Keep the fridge and pantry stocked with portable or easy to grab options for lunches and mid-morning and afternoon snacks. I like to have clear containers filled with pre-chopped vegetables, fruit, protein-rich dips, whole grain crackers cheese and yoghurt that is highly visible.

According to a recent survey, adolescents have the ‘worst’ diets amongst the rest of the Australian population.

Create a snack time strategy

Snacks can provide almost a quarter of a daily energy intake and help to fill in specific nutrient gaps left by meals. However, if your teen gets into the habit of eating whenever they feel like it, they may not be hungry when it’s time for a scheduled meal.

Encourage teens to prepare snacks throughout the day to avoid constant grazing and mindless eating. This is especially important if schedules are busy with extra-curricular activities and sports.

I love the new UNCLE TOBYS Oat Balls and Protein Balls. They’re a delicious, bite-sized snack ball made with the goodness of Aussie oats and real fruit. Perfect for not just your teenagers but for the whole family to enjoy while on the go!

Teach them the basics

Take the time to teach your teen basic kitchen skills, from how to peel and chop vegetables and fruit to using kitchen appliances and the stove.

If the basic skills are learnt, simple meals or snacks can be prepared with ease, such as blending smoothies, boiling or scrambling eggs, and making salad wraps. You may be lucky and get breakfast in bed on the odd occasion!

By Nutritionist and UNCLE TOBYS Ambassador, Kathleen Alleaume