A teenager is a young individual whose age is between thirteen and nineteen. Teens go through many changes during this stage of life. It is essential that their diet keeps pace with this evolution.
The diet of adolescents should support growth and promote good physical health. For the time being, a series of physiological changes will take place that have an effect on nutritional needs. This includes fast growth and significant increases in the bones and muscles especially in boys. It is also a time when teenagers begin to develop true independence from their parents, including making decisions about the foods they eat. Adolescents tend to choose foods in response to pressure or as an act of rebellion against parents. Not all bad news, because there are many opportunities to promote healthy eating habits for teenagers, particularly in relation to food choices for sports or physical health.
Adolescents need the proper nutrients to get them through their busy schedules. Pressures from school work, happy social occasions such as dances and hanging out with my friends as well as difficult social situations such as heartbreak and not fitting in are all part of being a teenager. Teens need sufficient nutrients and good calories, especially calcium and iron, which are important for growth and development occurring in this phase of life.
Teenage years are a period of rapid growth, and the gluttonous appetite displayed by teens is a good indication of how quickly they burn calories. Eating too many calories in the form of bad fats and refined sugars are indications that nutrient intake has been sacrificed. Adolescents should be persuaded to choose a variety of foods in order to stay vital and healthy:
- Starchy foods – whole grain rice, bread and pastas, white and sweet potatoes, whole grain couscous and breakfast cereals that are low in sugar
- Lots of fruits and vegetables – at least five servings each day
- Two servings of protein such as eggs, beans, legumes and fish
- Limit bad fatty foods. Snack on nuts that provide healthy fats instead
- Limit sugary, high caffeine beverages
Here are some important eating habits adolescents should follow:
- Drink at least eight glasses of fluid a day – preferably water.
- Eat regular meals, including breakfast, because it can provide vital nutrients and develop attentiveness in the morning.
- Regular exercise is important for general fitness and cardiovascular health as well as bone development.