Adolescence is a stage of rapid physical growth and increased nutritional needs. Teenagers always seem to be hungry for good reason – the body demands more nutrients to support growth and other pubertal changes at this crucial time in an adolescent’s life. However, it seems that teenagers do not have enough room to accommodate healthy eating in their daily activities. Having to juggle school, homework, sports, family, and a social life in their hands, developing poor eating habits is not uncommon at this stage. It is more convenient for teens to grab fatty, sugary, and calorie-laden snacks when hanging out with friends.
A balanced nutritious diet for teens is not only important to lay the groundwork for a healthy body in adulthood. More importantly, an adolescent with good eating habits will have enough energy in order to enjoy their young lives now. A good and practical diet can definitely fuel them to excel in school, sports, and family activities.
Here are some smart and practical steps to help an adolescent develop healthy eating habits:
Draw an imaginary line on your meal plate and fill half of it with fruits and vegetables.
• Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy teenage body.
• Green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli are rich in folate for proper tissue growth and development.
• Yellow-orange vegetables like carrots are packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant that help ward off illnesses and is also great against pimples and acne.
• Fruits are rich in fiber that promotes good digestion, and Vitamin C for healthy cells.
Divide the other half into quarters and fill one quarter with whole grains.
• Brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and multi-grain cereals are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates that help teens maintain a leaner body and supply them with energy for their daily activities.
• Whole-wheat grains also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Fill the final quarter of the plate with protein-rich food.
• Protein is vital for muscle growth and other important bodily processes. That is why adolescents should get plenty of protein from the food they eat every day.
• Meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, beans, and peas are some of the protein sources that can be easily integrated into a teen’s daily meal plan.
Compliment this plate with a smart glass of drink.
• Proper hydration is essential to synthesize all the nutrients from the food that an adolescent eats.
• Teens should ideally drink milk and water with their meals and snacks, and stay away from carbonated beverages that are high in caffeine and calories, but low in nutrients.
Parents of teenagers should play an active role in ensuring that their kids are eating the right variety of healthy foods to keep up with the demands of their adolescent bodies. Good eating habits developed at home will definitely help a teenager make smart food choices even when eating out with friends.