Making Healthy Choices as a Busy Teen

Between school, homework, sports, clubs and maintaining a social life, it can sometimes feel like there’s no time to think about anything else. Despite this, it’s important to make time for your health. It will only enhance your performance in everything else you’re involved in. Below are some simple ways to fit healthy choices into your hectic schedule.

Prep healthy snacks and lunches at home.

When you can, BYOL and BYOS (Bring Your Own Lunch and Bring Your Own Snacks). If healthy snacks are in arm’s reach, you don’t have to resort to empty calories or fast food when you start to get “hangry.” Try salads with your favorite protein for lunch or a DIY Bento Box featuring meats, cheeses, veggies and nuts. Throw in some dark chocolate for a treat. Healthy snacks might include veggies and hummus, fruit, nuts or string cheese.

Make fitness a priority.

If sports aren’t your thing, take the time in the morning or evening to do a quick workout. 20 minutes is all it takes. If you’re not a fan of the gym, there are many (free!) home workouts you can try on YouTube or various apps on your phone. Even taking a few minutes to go for a walk or do an ab routine in your bedroom counts. While you’re at school, try to take the stairs or the long way to class when possible. Fitness is about more than losing weight. It’s about the energy and endorphins you get from feeling your best.

Pick up a book instead of turning on the TV.

Healthy choices include more than just food and fitness. Your mind also needs self-care. Taking a break from the screen will allow your mind to slow down and relax. Bonus points if you read before bed—be sure to document how well you sleep after reading or relaxing vs. watching TV and scrolling through Instagram.

Use the buddy system.

Having a friend who can help hold you accountable for making healthy choices (and vice versa) can make all the difference. Try exercising with a friend a few times a week, swapping new meal prep recipes or participating in a book club. It’s easier to stay on track with your health when your friends are also making it a priority.

If you feel that you need an extra helping hand in making healthier choices, UPMC Children's Community Pediatrics offers Nutrition Services and can refer you to a pediatric registered dietitian nutritionist.