As a parent of a teen, I can certainly attest that young kids love to eat junk (if you let them). Candy, greasy food, donuts, soda – teen pig-out fests can be downright gross.
Teen icon Selena Gomez is a good example of what can happen when healthy eating isn’t a priority. She blamed her love of sweets and junk food for her hospitalization over the summer.
No argument here - teens need to eat healthier! After all, their fast-burning metabolism will slow down and most importantly good nutrition is fuel for the mind and body.
“The biggest culprit for weight gain in America is French fries, and potato chips are a close second,” revealed Lisa Oz to Healthy Hollywood. Lisa, along with her husband Dr. Mehmet Oz, co-founded HealthCorps, a healthy eating program for teens. “Kids go for the greasy foods like burgers and fries and the synthetic colorful foods like chocolate milk and JELL-O. The unhealthy choice might give you an initial burst of energy, but those calories are nutritionally empty and will only lead you to crash and crave another fix,” adds Lisa.
Lisa, who also wrote the wellness book, “YOU: The Owner’s Manual For Teens,” hopes to empower young kids (especially those from under-privileged areas) to make better food choices. “Healthy eating means paying attention to both the quality and quantity of food you consume. You want enough calories to keep your body energized, while at the same time making sure that your meals are balanced with foods from each of the three groups,” Lisa tells Healthy Hollywood.
As part of the Ozes’ initiative to get teens on a better path, they’ve started a HealthCorps peer mentoring service, which is an in-school health program run by recent college graduates to educate and inspire kids to eat better. Currently, the program reaches over 32 thousand teenagers and has already made a difference by getting youngsters to cut down on sodas and increase their physical activity. “My vision for HealthCorps is to engage America’s young people as the catalyst to enhance the nation’s health,” reveals Dr. Mehmet Oz.
A good launching point is school lunches. Lisa, who is also a mother of 4 – 2 of whom are under 17, shares with Healthy Hollywood a few pointers for a health-friendly lunch. “Eat food that comes out of the ground looking the same as it does when you eat it. This includes any whole fruit and vegetables served at the lunch counter. Avoid canned versions which are often high in sugar or salt.” Also, be sure to stay away from sodas and try to get more fiber into your diet – fiber fills you up and can helps you concentrate better. “Through HealthCorps, we are making a dent by helping kids make smarter decisions as they become activists within their communities. We are making it cool to be healthy.”