Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

January 8, 2013
Eating right often at bottom of teen to-do lists

The stereotypical teen today faces quite a paradox. We are seen as hypersensitive to calories because we’re constantly worrying about our figures while simultaneously being seen as some of the worst eaters today.

It is no secret that the diet of an average teen is less than healthy. Skipping breakfast in the morning and then skipping lunch in the afternoon for some greasy alternative at Kraver’s or McDonald’s are not uncommon occurrences. Neither is living on classic study food such as ever-addicting potato chips or packaged cookies such as Oreos.

Often, these poor dietary choices are subconscious. For example, I find my brain prioritizing food low on my to-do list in the morning. First, it’s get out of bed. Get everything ready for school. Get dressed and ready (and skip doing hair or make-up in a time crunch). Warm up the car, scrape the windows and cater clothing to the temperamental weather. Then, should my morning go exactly as planned (a rare event), my brain might think as an afterthought, “Oh yeah. Eat breakfast.”

A balanced, healthy diet is a crucial part of a high-quality lifestyle. Not only does it decrease the risk of a myriad of illness and disease, but it also contributes to the little things that make a big difference — healthier skin, hair and nails, and more energy, strength and self-confidence.

Why then is it so hard for us to place eating well on the top of our infinitely long to-do lists? I think the answer lies therein. Extensive to-do lists are often a major contributing factor. In the morning we get up and, after often sleeping in an hour or so past when our alarm first sounded, frantically get ready, go to school, and then to work, practice and to do homework. It’s a wonder we find time to eat at all.

I’m not trying to claim that teenagers are the busiest human beings alive. However, because of the constant stream of new responsibility, the problem is that we simply can’t manage our time as wisely as we (hopefully) will eventually learn to.

Fast food is hugely popular among teens for a reason. Not only is it delicious and often fried, but fast food is just that — fast. In a structured day full of time constraints, eating throughout the day is neglected far too often. On the other hand, any time we find ourselves confronted with a stretch of free time and free food, it is too easy to binge, often on foods that are full of sugar, fats and oils.

Ironically, many of the woes of the teenage years could be countered by monitoring what we eat. As more and more pressure is put on having the ideal body, less and less priority is given to having balanced diets that often result in that very goal.

Still, having the perfect body is the wrong reason to eat better. Health in general is far more important and far more worthwhile. Eating enough is just as important as eating less. The crucial change that many teenagers should be making is consistent, balanced eating throughout the day.

This may be a redundant topic. However, it still stands as an endless importance that teenagers need to eat a balanced diet. When choosing between breakfast and an extra 10 minutes of sleep, or math class and a late lunch with your best friends, remember that youth only lasts so long. Poor eating choices are going to catch us all eventually.

Siera Gomez is a senior at Stansbury High School.

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