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Talking to Teens About Nutrition as Self-Care

Last Updated: February 2021

In mental health treatment, your teenager learned the value of eating healthy and maintaining good nutrition. They learned about the importance of self-care and how to proactively promote wellness in ways to show they accept and love themselves.

One of the most important things your teen can do for his or her mental health is to care for their physical health, and that includes a nutrient-rich diet.

Learn more about how good nutrition can be a form of self-care that positively impacts your teen’s mental health and continued recovery. 

How Nutrition Impacts a Teen’s Mental and Physical Health

There are many theories on the best way to eat, but when it comes to ensuring your child is getting proper nutrition, start with reliable sources and stay away from rapidly changing fad diets.

MyPlate is a United States government resource that can help you and your teenager understand the basics of food diets, macronutrients and portions, and even help your teen track his or her nutrition daily.

The website includes resources to help your teen improve their physical health, as well as mental health, by eating nutritious food now.

Research shows that many people with anxiety and depression are deficient in B vitamins, folate and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Some studies also show that a Mediterranean diet rich in legumes, seafood and whole grains give specific nutrients to the brain that will help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression.

In addition to having your child eat well throughout the day, taking the time to research specific supplements and vitamins that can help your teen feel his or her best may be worth it.

Many nutrients are best absorbed from foods, but in some cases, you may wish to add one or more supplements to your teen’s daily routine to give them optimal health benefits.

3 Steps to Take When Talking to Teens About Nutrition as Self-Care

You may have heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” That is no more true than when changing eating habits.

How will you implement what you have learned about your teen’s nutritional needs?

Here are three easy steps to take when speaking to your child about nutrition as a form of self-care:

1. Consider Improving Your Family’s Nutrition Through Gardening

If you enjoy gardening or think your family would like to try it, see what you and your teen can grow together. Growing even a small basil plant in a window contributes to your teen’s nutritional self-care and can be very rewarding. If you have access to a porch, window or another small planting area, you can try planting carrots, green beans, kale or tomatoes.

All of these leafy greens and vegetables can easily be grown and require limited space. They will also help save some money on your food budget. Watching your teen’s plants grow can also be a metaphor for his or her own growth.

2. Speak to Your Teen About Making Home-Cooked Meals

In addition to teaching your teen about gardening and nutrition, they can learn how to cook new recipes. Help your emerging chef find simple recipes that are easy to prepare and great to eat. If you are an experienced cook, then you can branch out and try more complicated recipes together, learning new types of cooking skills.

Cooking can be very therapeutic. You start with raw ingredients, and with some knowledge and skill, you can create something delicious. Many people also enjoy sharing their food with others. It can be really rewarding for your teen to see how people enjoy their hard work.

3. Talk About Meal Planning for Better Nutrition

Start by coordinating cooking and shopping duties. Involve your teen in grocery shopping and meal preparation. Cook at home as much as possible and make it an enjoyable experience.

Cooking can be relaxing and soul-soothing. Do not let your quest for good nutrition become obsessive or a point of contention in your family. Strive for progress, not perfection.

You can do some, or none of the above ideas, it is up to what is right for you and your child. The concept of self-care is to do something that contributes to your teen’s wellness, but it should also be something that they enjoy.

They can prioritize their mental and physical health by including nutrition in their self-care. They will find ways to care for themselves that are interesting and fun, but most of all, they will be doing something that can lower their chances of anxiety, depression or another disorder, now and in the future.

Help your teen use nutrition as a form of self-care and find out how delicious and rewarding it can be. If you need additional assistance, contact Embark Behavioral Health.

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.