Parenting teenagers can be a tricky business. Your babies are growing up, they are forming opinions of their own and they are learning how to make decisions and navigate the world around them.

It’s important to give them the leeway to do just that. But giving them more freedoms and responsibilities does not mean letting go of all rules or relinquishing our role as their guide. This holds true on important topics ranging from relationships to money to appropriate behavior. And it definitely holds true when it comes to healthy eating.

The habits and tastes that your teen is busy exploring now will shape how they relate to food for years to come. That doesn’t mean their tastes won’t change (I was somewhat of a junk food vegetarian as a teen, and now I am a registered dietitian), but by providing some careful pointers and subtle incentives, you can help tip the scales in favor of a balanced, life-affirming relationship with food. Here are a few key pointers.

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