How to Encourage Your Teenager to Conquer with Milk
The story of calcium and the role it plays in protecting our bones is one you are probably familiar with. In fact, you might even be able to recall a parent or teacher encouraging you to ‘Drink your milk!’ when you were younger because of its rich calcium content.
No matter how you discovered the connection, calcium and dairy go hand in hand. Knowing that calcium is important and that dairy foods can help you better meet your calcium goals isn’t enough– you actually have to drink your milk and eat your yogurt to benefit.
Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t meeting daily calcium needs. This is especially true for girls between the ages of 14 and 18 who, on average, only consume HALF of the recommended 3 cups of dairy per day. Eeks! Why is this alarming? Think about how fast teenagers are growing into their adult bodies. The amount of calcium needed to sustain that bone growth is more than at any other stage in their lives.
Teen girls face a double-whammy – increased calcium requirements and a tougher time incorporating calcium-rich foods into their busy lives. Hectic schedules, poor diets, peer pressure, and less family meals together might be just a few of those reasons over 85% of teenage girls fall short on this nutrient.
Related: 5 Ways to Build Strong Bones
As a parent, it’s downright daunting to think of a teen’s fledgling independence. Yet, you still can influence your child’s eating habits. Thanks to milk and its versatility (and a little creative inspo), your teenage daughter may find how simple it is to drink even just one more glass of milk a day to better meet her needs.
Help your teenager incorporate more dairy into her everyday moments:
Set the stage. If you want your teenagers to eat well, make sure they have easy access to nutrient-rich foods. When it comes to dairy, this means keeping yogurt, milk and cheese readily available throughout the week. Keeping these products front and center in your fridge can be helpful. Consider dropping a not-so subtle hint by posting a few dairy-inclusive snack ideas on said fridge. This keeps dairy top-of-mind when your teen is on the hunt for a snack in between meals or if hunger strikes after an event at school.
Plan meals together. Odds are good that your teenage daughter is beginning to express her own unique personality through clothes, interests, and yes, food. Foster positive decision making by supporting her healthy choices. One way to do that is to invite your teenager to help with the grocery shopping list. Does she have a favorite type of yogurt? Does she prefer chocolate milk to white? Having input in the family’s food purchases can solidify ownership over those foods, making them much more likely to be a hit in your home. She may also have great ideas for weaving new and exciting foods into regular meals — which may increase the likelihood of enjoying family meals together.
Focus on what matters to her. Whether your teenager is active in sports, an honor student, or both, what they eat absolutely impacts their performance. By focusing on what matters in her life, you can begin discussing how foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt can enhance those activities and allow your teenager to perform at her optimum level. It puts some of that “healthy food” jargon into real life terms, giving context as to WHY it matters.
Encourage them to conquer. Enjoying dairy-rich foods can be a part of your teenage daughter’s lifestyle. You can empower her to conquer her world (with a glass of milk in hand) by introducing her to Conquer with Milk on Instagram and Twitter. By following us there, your daughter will have access to healthy eating advice, fun prizes, and inspiring insights from top female athletes we’ve partnered with to share the story of milk. And, for additional mobile-friendly inspiration, Conquerwithmilk.org has lots of easy prep recipes for smoothies and snacks.
With these tips, your teenager will be well on her way to consuming the recommended three servings of milk, cheese or yogurt a day. And even if she doesn’t thank you now, her bones will later on in life.
This post was originally published on 4/29/2016 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.