The nutritional needs for your teenager are different from yours. Teens are growing and changing at this time and that requires more nutrients and more calories than you require. To be their healthiest, they need something more nutritious than the average American diet. The higher caloric requirement, which is approximately 2800 calories each day for boys, which can be as high as 4,000 if they’re in sports and 2,200 calories for girls, which also increases for activity to up to 3,000. Adult men normally only require 2500 calories and women only require 2000.
Protein is important for teens.
Lean, healthy protein, such as protein from fish, dairy, poultry, meat eggs, or vegetarian options like most types of beans and Tofu is important to growing teens. They need it for muscle growth and development, which is often occurring quite rapidly in males and the physical changes that are taking place. Approximately 10 to 30 percent of their caloric intake should be protein.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be served with every meal.
Too often food fresh from the garden is tough to find, unlike centuries ago when the family garden was where most food originated. Teens need to have a wide variety of colors on their plate to ensure they have all the healthy nutrients necessary. Not only do vegetables provide nutrients and energy, they provide fiber. Make sure your teen has five serving of varied fruits and vegetables each day. If you want to break it down further, they should have 2 to 2.5 cups of veggies and 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit.
Strong bones and teeth come from adequate calcium.
You might immediately think of milk when you think of calcium, but that’s not always the healthiest option. Some children can’t tolerate cow’s milk, while other studies show a diet that contains more than a glass of milk a day might decrease life expectancy. Instead, make sure there are viable high calcium options, such as almonds, lentils, broccoli, beans and dark leafy greens available.
- One way to ensure your teen is eating healthy snacks is to make sure they’re available. Have veggies and dip, cubed melon or other healthy options ready for munching in the fridge.
- Just like you, your teen needs healthy fat in his or her diet. Their brain needs fat for peak performance, so ensure whole eggs, fatty fish and avocado are on the menu and nuts are part of their snacks.
- Go with full fat options, rather than choosing low fat alternatives, like low fat yogurt. When manufacturers remove some of the fat, they normally add extra sugar to make the food taste better.
- Check out some of our recommendations for teens. We help them make smarter choices when it comes to what they eat. For instance, using brown rice, rather than white rice, provides fewer calories and more nutrition.