10 diet tips for teen health
Created by Tanuja Sodhi Updated on Oct 24, 2017
Being a parent is certainly not an easy task, especially when your 'little baby' grows out of the 'little' tag to step into the teenage world with a loud bang! You just may not know what hit you! And you may sometimes seriously consider therapy to help you deal with your teen's tantrums about what to eat, what to wear, where to go, whom to meet and whom NOT to greet, why she doesn't look like Selena Gomez or he like Robert Pattinson, and why is the mirror so insensitive to them. The list is endless!
On a lighter vein, someone once said - “It's difficult to decide whether growing pains are something teenagers have - or are.” On a positive note, some of us may be luckier to find the going much easier in dealing with their respective teens. Amidst the many issues that plague the parents of teens, teenage nutrition ranks really high.
Nutrition Tips For Teen Health
During the teenage years, the growing bones are hungry for calcium, while iron and proteins are necessary for the overall growth spurts. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for your child to eat a well-balanced diet. Here are some of the most common diet tips that go a long way in facilitating your teen's journey towards good health.
- Junk the junk food: Don't think twice before you do away with all the junk food at home, because it's an inferior fuel for your child's body.
- Junk food like potato chips, burgers, and fizzy drinks are loaded with bad fats, salt and sugar, and deficient in fiber and essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals
- This simply means that your teen could suffer from weight gain, high BP, constipation, fatigue, concentration problems, and a host of other health issues even at a young age
- Have a blast with a wholesome breakfast: Never let your child skip breakfast. A good breakfast provides important nourishment to begin each day with vital energy. It provides fuel for your child's still growing body.
- Without breakfast, your child can become irritable, restless and tired by late morning, just when he needs energy to pay attention and participate in learning activities at school
- Chances of snacking on junk food are dim if the breakfast is wholesome
- Six or seven meals a day, keep cravings away: Offer 3 healthy main meals and 3-4 snacks a day to your teen, including various servings of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. By doing so, blood sugar spikes that lead to unhealthy cravings are kept in check
- Never buy food when your stomach cries out 'food': When hunger pangs attack, your child naturally craves for unhealthy carbohydrates and bad fat. So if your famished teen accompanies you to the store, he is bound to bully you into buying the wrong stuff loaded with empty calories. A growling stomach is best kept away from such temptations
- No TV while eating: Never let your child eat while watching TV.
- It is easy to lose track of how much goes into the mouth while watching TV. It is because the body is essentially disconnected from the mind. The mind is focused on TV and not on how hungry your child is
- This disconnects leads your child to eat mindlessly, not registering that he may be full
- On the other hand, eating mindfully makes your teen feel satiated with much lesser food
- Cut portion down to its size: Don't let your teen order the biggest portion sizes when you go out to eat.
- The largest sizes obviously have the most trans-fat, calories, sugar and sodium, and he will probably be just as satisfied with a smaller portion
- On arriving at a restaurant, the excitement of eating his favorite food is generally so high that it may be confused with intense hunger
- This can lead to ordering a much bigger meal than what your teen's body actually needs
- Growth hormones playing havoc with his appetite is also a contributing factor
- Order small portions initially or share a big meal, eat every bite slowly – these things will help your teen feel full with much lesser than what he expected when ordering food
- Another trick is to use smaller plates. This helps the portions look like more, and if your child's mind is satisfied, his stomach likely will be, too
- Toss the sauce: Sauces and dressings such as mayonnaise, tartar sauce, Caesar dressing, French dressing, white pasta sauce and sour cream are heavy on calorie count.
- Sauces and dressings made of cheese, white flour, cream and butter are full of fat
- If your child likes to add tomato ketchup to almost everything, you're better off not buying it, as it is loaded with sodium, sugar and other preservatives
- All of these unknowingly add loads of extra fat and spike up the calorie count of a meal. So, exercise constraint here
- Shop with care: This is a tried and tested trick. If you don't buy junk, there isn't any for your child to eat.
- Instead of the sugary and salty snacks that usually go in your shopping cart, fill it up with nutrient powerhouses like fruits and veggies
- Some good snack options are yogurt (without added sugar), low fat cheese slices, multigrain breadsticks, roasted and unsalted peanuts, roasted chanas, roasted grains and beans like soya beans and bajra (pearl millet), buttermilk, dried fruits and nuts
- These are very filling as they provide fiber and keep unhealthy cravings at bay
- Sip up to shape up: Get your teen to drink plenty of water, as water is the only calorie-free drink.
- Water is essential for regulating body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to organs and tissues
- Water prevents dehydration. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, joint pain and muscle weakness. By keeping your child hydrated, water also energizes her
- It keeps your child from getting headaches, pains, and constipation and keeps the skin glowing
- When you find your teen reaching for empty calorie-loaded soda drinks or energy drinks to quench her thirst, speak to her about the perks of loading up on water, instead
- Get your teen into the habit of drinking 6-8 glasses of water every day and not wait for a thirst signal to react to
- Go bananas over fruits: Fruits are the foundation of a healthy diet.
- Fruits displace fat in the diet and are packed with nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and water that your teen needs
- Keep a fruit bowl stocked at home at all times as instant low calorie snacks
- To make it more interesting, you could prepare a simple mixed fruit chaat, fruit yogurt, fruits tossed in low fat dressing or fruit smoothies
- These will fill her up with nutrients and leave little room for junk, such as chips, candy and sodas
Your teenager's body needs the building blocks that come from eating a balanced diet. What she eats now can greatly affect her health in the future. A few simple changes will make a huge difference to her health and to the way she feels. And a diet need not be “all or nothing.” Eat well and have the occasional treat! Bon Appetit!
Do you have a teen at home? How do you encourage your teen to eat healthy? Share your tips with us in the comments section!
| Oct 25, 2017
Informative !! thanks
| Jul 19, 2017
Really very useful
| Jul 19, 2017
| Jun 26, 2017
| May 29, 2017
| Aug 18, 2015
Very very informative
| Feb 17, 2013
thanks Ms Sodhi.. I am following this more firmly now : "Never, I repeat, never let your child skip breakfast" !!!
| Feb 13, 2013
It is so easy to make the wrong food choices especially in the company of friends who prefer such foods. The points mentioned are really informative and implementing them on a daily basis is sure to benefit a young adults health and food choices. Healthy eating never goes out of fashion!
| Feb 13, 2013
Love the point which says 6-7 meals keep cravings away. Also its true that our kids will eat whatever they will find at home. Very relatable article. For the past 2 years or so, i have started doing something which most parents do early on.. Before leaving the house, I make sure my child, and in fact everyone has had a good meal, earlier if we would simply rush out on the weekend, my boy would get hungry soon and would eat junk snacks. Ensuring that he has had a homemade meal before he steps out makes me happy since it means one less burger or pizza for him..
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