Food and Nutrition

Healthy snack ideas for your teen

Huda Shaikh
11 to 16 years

Created by Huda Shaikh
Updated on Jul 27, 2020

Healthy snack ideas for your teen
Reviewed by Expert panel

As a parent of a teenager, you might have noticed that your child is either always ravenous, or eats like a bird. Whichever category your child falls into, the right food with adequate nutrition is the key. Teens experience growth spurts, during which they may seem to eat all the time. And a helping of aloo tikki or a glass of juice won't do the trick when they come home from school. On an average, a teenage boy requires 2800 calories per day, and a teenage girl requires 2200 calories per day.

What Are The Key Nutrients My Teen Requires?

Teenagers with different body types, lifestyles and levels of physical activity will require different types and levels of nutrients. However, on the whole, the growing years demand that these key nutritional requirements be met-

  • Calcium: For healthy skeletal development, calcium is the essential nutrient
  • Iron: Apart from carrying oxygen to the various organs, iron also helps in brain development. Teenage girls lose iron during their menstrual period, and thus require more stores of iron from their food
  • Protein: The basic building block for all development, protein is very important for your teenager's growth

Apart from these, your teenager will require the energy powerhouse carbohydrates, and all other essential vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet.

Why Is Healthy Snacking Important?

Studies have shown that healthy snacking can help in maintaining your teen's weight. It is always important to feed them at least 5-6 small meals a day, which are rich in protein, complex carbohydrates, essential fats, vitamins and minerals.

Teenagers have more spending money, and the independence to visit shops and eateries. They love foods like burgers, pizzas, fries, colddrinks, ice cream, candies and cookies.However,these are nothing but storehouses of calories, which do no good to enhance their growth. Hence healthy snacking becomes imperative.

What Counts As A Healthy Snack For A Teen?

A healthy snack is one which has a blend of both complex carbohydrates and proteins, because such a snack not only fills nutritional gaps in between meals, but also provides a feeling of fullness and satiety.

What Are Some Foods To Avoid?

Once a week, include their favorite treat in a meal, whether it is a pizza or a burger or some ice cream. This way, you don't deprive them of the pleasure, but you also ensure that the overall quality of food they eat is good. However, on a regular basis, avoid these foods to help your teen have a balanced diet-

  1. Soda and fizzy soft drinks: Offering absolutely no nutrition, these drinks are loaded with sugar and artificial additives
  2. Fries: The fries that come with your teen's burger meal at the restaurant contain excessive amounts of sodium and saturated fats. Ask your child to help you prepare some healthy, baked wedges at home
  3. Too many sweets and pastries: Too much sugar is never good for anyone. During teen years when the body is developing at a rapid phase, and hormonal changes are aplenty, too much sugar is linked to hyperactivity, heart disease and mental health issues

What Are Some Unhealthy Eating Habits To Avoid?

Adolescence brings with it various issues such as low self-esteem, low body image, and unhealthy obsession with weight. Talk to your teenager about the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Here are some unhealthy habits to watch out for-

  1. Skipping meals: Make sure your teen eats 5-6 small meals daily. If she is skipping meals regularly, dig deeper into the issue. Speak to her about good health, rather than weight as a number. Skipping meals can lead to acidity and serious digestion problems
  2. Overeating: The opposite problem is true in many cases. Teens also eat to deal with self-esteem issues. Again, as a parent, be supportive and gentle with your teen when you talk to them about possible reasons for it

What Are Some Healthy Snacking Options For Teenagers?

  1. Peanut or almond butter with apple or pear: This is the perfect combination of proteins, carbohydrates and essential fats. If your teen sulks at the suggestion to eat a fruit, try this out. You can even make your own nut butter at home
  2. Greek yogurt or hung curd with chopped fruits and crushed nuts: Calcium is very important for your teen, and this option gives you protein, carbohydrates, essential fats and a good dose of calcium
  3. Hummus with salad sticks: Sprinkle some herbs and black pepper on the sticks, and make this a yummy protein-packed snack that is easy to consume on the go
  4. Banana and Nutella sandwich: When your teen isn't in the mood to eat "boring" food,give it a slight twist by adding some Nutella to the fiber,potassium and magnesium rich banana to make a filling sandwich
  5. Fruit smoothies: A tasty, yet healthy option which gives you the opportunity to combine various fruits with some yoghurt, in just one tall glass. High in protein and antioxidants, this is a great addition to your teen's diet. Serve it cold, and it becomes an instant treat
  6. Whole grain crackers with dip: Simple, yet so healthy! You can easily buy some whole wheat crackers from the market, and make some hung curd dip or bean dip at home. Whenever your teen feels like munching on something, this recipe comes handy. When he feels hungry while preparing for examinations at night, this is a quick and healthy option
  7. Roasted makhana: Add a little pepper and butter to your roasted makhana to make a light snack that is similar to popcorn. It is not only high in protein, but also in minerals like magnesium and potassium

A balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products will contribute immensely to your growing teen. While you strive to give them this, give them the occasional treat, and watch them become much more aware of their health.

How do you get your teenagers to eat healthy? We'd love to know! Tell us in the comments below.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Apr 19, 2017

very helpful

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| Jun 02, 2017

very useful information please share like these always

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| Jun 17, 2017

good information

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| Jun 30, 2017


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| Jul 14, 2017

Its very useful tips

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| Sep 14, 2017

I have fixed up a day in a week when rules are lil relaxed and my girls can have junk food , so it's a win- win situation for all of us. thanks Huda Shaikh for sharing this interesting blog with amazing handy tips.

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| Sep 14, 2017

Hi Shikha,That is simply amazing :)Happy parenting.

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| Feb 27, 2018

Really it's helpful.

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