Feeding my boys is much different now that they’re teens. Technically, the youngest is 12, but he’s very independent and acts a lot like a teenager. I used to have so much control over what they ate, but now that they earn their own money and spend so much time away from me, their eating habits aren’t the best.

When they’re home, though, I work hard to make sure they eat healthy, whole foods. It’s a struggle. Some kids love the natural and organic foods they grew up on and choose them for themselves all the time. Not my boys. I have to trust that the things I’ve taught them will stay with them and eventually they’ll make wise choices when I’m not the one feeding them.

This summer has been more of struggle than summers past, and the things that I’ve said — sometimes over and over — are indicative of my frustration with getting teen boys to eat healthy. Just for fun, let’s look at some of the things that have come out of my mouth in the past couple of weeks.

  1. Did you just eat three bagels for breakfast?
  2. Corn and potatoes don’t count as vegetables. Yes, I know they’re vegetables, but let’s pretend they’re not.
  3. You asked me to buy that cantaloupe. Why aren’t you eating the cantaloupe?
  4. I know you just woke up, but it’s not breakfast if it’s 2 p.m.
  5. Yes, you do have time to eat before you go out.
  6. Why are you getting on your bike to go get something to eat at 4:30? We’re having dinner at 6.
  7. One pea does not mean you’ve eaten your vegetables.
  8. I bought 10 yogurts just yesterday. Where are they all?
  9. You used to love my meatballs. When did you stop liking my meatballs?
  10. Yes, we do have plenty to drink in this house. It’s called water.
  11. Why is this perfectly good apple in the trash?
  12. You can’t find the cut-up fruit that’s front and center in the fridge, but you have no problem finding the tiny bottle of ginger ale I have hidden way in the back that I keep for my favorite cocktail. I bet if I hid it in the vegetable crisper, you’d never find it.
  13. What do you mean you don’t remember how to scramble an egg? Yes, you do.
  14. How can you only like corn on the cob every other summer?
  15. No, I am not ordering Chinese food. (I’ve said this one several times each week.)
This list is a little funny. I have to keep things in perspective. I can’t control everything my boys put in their mouth. I can only teach them good habits, have healthy, whole foods in the house where they still eat the majority of their meals, and let the rest go. 

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

15 frustrating things I've said to my boys about food
The eating habits of teenage boys are a special challenge. My conversations with them show my frustrations.