Skip to 0 minutes and 13 secondsThe recommendation is that you should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. However, we know that it's very difficult, as a parent, to get your child to eat this many fruits and vegetables. So my advice to you is just try and eat as much as you can. And even if you can get that little extra portion in at some point in the day or some point in the week, that is going to help benefit your child. And one of the best things you can do for this is actually just to have healthy things visible around your house.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 secondsSo in your kitchen, if you have fruit and vegetables visible, or if you have healthy fruit bars visible or, you know, just something that isn't a fast food or a processed chocolate bar, having these things visible we know will increase their intake. Now, often, parents will say to me, OK, great, I want to try and get more fruit and vegetables and healthy fruit into my children, and non-processed foods, but actually, these are really expensive. The expensive ones are things that are pre-processed, prepackaged, but If you just buy fresh available from your local store or in your local shop, those will be perfect.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 secondsSo if you buy these fruit and vegetables or fresh produce, take them home, and then actually chop them up or even cook them while they're around, then that, we know as psychologists that that will help increase healthy behaviours. And children who observe their parents preparing foods are far more likely to go on and prepare those foods themselves. And a key thing in terms of encouraging any eating behaviour in a child, and also adults, is allowing them a sense of control. So rather than telling them they're going to eat something, you need to allow them to select something or choose something, because that way they feel like they have more control over what they're doing.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 secondsAnd that will help them feel more positive about their eating behaviour. Giving them that selection is definitely going to be a benefit and a help.

Rebuilding healthy eating habits

In this video, Dr Daniel Lamport discusses the importance of healthy eating habits, and ways to encourage them in the home.

For more suggestions to help improve your teenager’s diet and approach to food, see our list below:

  • Try to eat together regularly. Mealtimes are important social events
  • Encourage your teenager to eat breakfast. Experimental studies show that having breakfast can improve mood throughout the day
  • Be a good role model – what you eat and how you eat can teach young people about nutrition
  • Try to offer a range of different foods. Be brave and experiment with new foods.
  • If a new food isn’t popular at first, be patient; it can take a few attempts before people start to enjoy new flavours.
  • Offer water with every meal, and encourage drinking water between meals, instead of soft drinks
  • If your child has no appetite, offer them very small portions. This is less overwhelming and easier to manage. They can always have more.
  • Don’t keep junk food in the house. If it’s not there it can’t be eaten.
  • Have biscuits, cakes and sweets on special occasions only.
  • Encourage young people to participate in planning meals for themselves and the family
  • Teach your child to cook. This can encourage them to get more involved in preparing meals and give them more control and knowledge.

Do you have any other suggestions or ideas that have helped encourage you, your family or your teenager to improve their diet? Why not share them in the discussion below. Don’t forget you can ‘like’ or reply to any comment.

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This video is from the free online course:

Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

University of Reading