As teenagers continue to grow and advance in their path to adulthood, their bodily changes have nutritional requirements. To gain height, to obtain the ‘correct’ weight, to be strong – all of these are by-products of having a balanced diet, and required nutrients.
However, encouraging the fast-food eating, junk food-eating teen of this era to eat healthily is easier said than done. First, it must be understood and taught what is needed by their body and why.
- Vitamin D: Aiding bone development and growth, this nutrient ensures bones are strong and healthy. Also called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, the human body automatically produces this vitamin when exposed to the UVB rays of sunlight. Other ways are through drinking low-fat milk, etc.
- Protein: Essential in the growth and repair of tissues, Protein lays the foundation of bones, skin, and cartilage. To help you grow strong and give you energy, protein-rich foods like Tofu, Lentils, and other meats come in handy.
- Iron: The primary role of Iron is to ensure the transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream throughout the body. Lack of oxygen to organs could result in general fatigue and Anaemia in extreme cases. Thus, Iron-rich foods like Spinach, Citrus foods (etc) should be consumed.
- Calcium: For the health of bones and teeth, Calcium is important, and thus is widely available in many dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, etc.
Now comes the question: What are tips and food choices for healthy eating of teens? The answer needs to be a combination of teenagers’ nutritional needs and food that teenagers like.
- The consumption of junk and fast food should be made occasional.
- When eating out, sides/appetizers can be substituted by healthier options instead. For example, ordering a bowl of fruit rather than a basket of Fries.
- Oily food should be avoided; deep-fried chicken can be substituted for a healthier option of Grilled chicken instead.
- There should be home-made lunch for school e.g. quiche and salads, or sandwiches.
- Replace sugary drinks in the refrigerator with natural fruit juices, or milk instead.
- Breakfast is a must. As the most important meal of the day, a good breakfast ensures the teen is energetic and fully geared for the rest of the day.
To encourage healthy eating amongst teens, it is imperative that they are told the benefits of a nutritional diet, and replacements for usual teen-foods be delicious. With yummier, healthy snacks, teens are bound to become healthy and stay away from medical problems like obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases.
Nutrition for Teenagers