Especially for teens, I feel that it is very hard to eat healthy. When we are with friends, it’s never “let’s go get a salad” or “maybe we should cut back on our calories.” It’s always what fast food place sounds the best right now; and that place is usually Chick-fil-A. But, as the pandemic rolled around, I wasn’t able to see my friends hardly at all. Meaning I had more control over every meal I had. With a combination of my dad’s teaching and a strong desire to get shredded for the summer, I ate one of the healthiest diets imaginable.
Most people can agree that they want to eat healthy and get in shape. Well, now is the time to do so. You have so much control over what you eat right now and what you do during the day. With school being only a few hours long and sports being cancelled, now is the time to eat healthy and focus on getting in shape.
— Jack, Desmond
At the start of quarantine everything was closed. Because gyms and other places to work out were closed, it was my responsibility to get myself moving each day. If you don’t know, exercise creates “happy chemicals” in your brain, causing your mood (and health) to improve. When I wasn’t working out as consistently, there was a steep decline in my mental health. I was just kind of sad all of the time and I felt drained. And so, I reached for food as a way to help me “cope.” It was nothing too extreme, I didn’t have an eating disorder or anything, but that was my way of coping with what was going on. That cycle of not feeling great, then reaching for food, and then feeling worse, continued for a few weeks.
I was probably at an all-time low and I wasn’t feeling great about myself. I began to start running to get myself into shape, and started cooking more often. My family assigned my siblings and I one night to cook dinner for the family, and I thought that was fun and almost therapeutic. And so, I got really into cooking for myself and in turn, started eating healthier. I try to pay attention to the foods I eat, but I never obsess about it, because I know that can lead to toxic cycles and patterns. I try to fit in fruits and veggies when I can, but I don’t always get my “five a day” in.
— Keener, Hoggard HS Wilmington, NC
Your diet is essential for many aspects of your life whether you realize it or not. And though Covid-19 has made it more difficult for many to have access to fresh produce and healthy food options it shouldn’t be an excuse to not be educated how to eat properly and make good food decisions. In fact, Covid-19 was one of the reasons I chose to become vegetarian. I wanted to have more control over my diet and cook at home more. This provided the me with the opportunity, through trial and error to see how my diet affected my body and mind. I was astonished to find that by eating more fruits and vegetables I had more energy and I actually began to enjoy learning new recipes and cooking for myself. It also made me realize just how much I’d been depriving myself of a very important part of any diet, fiber. And this is why I believe that it’s essential for people to think more deeply about what they chose to put into their body, because you only have one.
— Jason J., Glenbard West HS Glen Ellyn, IL
This year my taste has changed in food, meaning my diet looks completely different from last year. I have cut all soda from my diet and replaced it with water. I have been eating healthier foods like salads, turkey, and chicken. The most important part to me about having not only a clean input of food but a good consistent exercise routine, without working out eating healthy has little impact.
— Badr Abusalah, Palestine
Other Thoughts on Teens and Healthy Eating
As an athlete, I try to maintain a healthy diet and to be cognizant of what I eat and drink. While I certainly eat fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains, I also enjoy dessert, pancakes, and more — everything in moderation! However, I do think that it is important to note the harm of perpetuating diet culture, especially in teens. Eating disorders are widespread and incredibly common, and putting too much emphasis on food itself can lead to unhealthy practices. Rather than focusing on eating healthy to look a certain way, we should promote the concept of eating healthy for just that: health. To make sure that teenagers are eating according to Ms. Caron’s recommendations, we should recommend tasty ways to eat fruits and vegetables (for instance, a healthy smoothie) and promote healthy eating to feel better, perform better in sports, and be one’s best self, rather than for physical appearance.
— Sarah Faz, Mountain View, CA