Adolescence is a vulnerable transitional phase of growth and development between childhood and adulthood. There is often a dramatic increase in energy and physical activity. They need extra nutrition to fuel these accelerated changes, which also means they must eat healthily.
Scientists say poor eating habits which are formed during adolescence can lead to obesity and diet-related diseases in later years. In addition, the over-dependence on junk and processed food which has become an addiction nowadays, can contribute to nutritional inadequacies and the development of eating disorders.
Establishing and maintaining healthy eating behaviors during childhood and adolescence can help to prevent the occurrence of diet-related diseases.
This article explores the nutritional requirements of teenagers. It also looks at the 5 nutritious superfoods that should be incorporated into every teenager’s diet
Nutrition For Teens
At puberty, the body demands more calories than at any other period of its life as it requires energy to function and grow. The National Health Service of the UK suggests an intake of 2000-3000 calories daily. However, it can vary depending on gender, genes, height, and weight.
How much and what type of food we consume controls our health. It is ideal to replace foods that are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats with fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy foods, and whole grains.
Fruits and vegetables have high levels of nutrients, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Including healthy fat foods can help you in your growth and development and keep your hair and skin healthy. Protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, peanut butter, nuts, and tofu are beneficial for the smooth functioning of organs and building muscles.
Food rich in iron such as meat, seafood, cereals, leafy vegetables, and beans can be helpful in muscle building. Milk, yogurt, and cheese rich in calcium can be included in their diet to improve bone health.
Zinc which is essential for building immunity can be obtained from meat, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, and seafood. All of the said minerals are supposed to make your child healthy thus it is advisable to add them to the diet.
Following a healthy and balanced diet is considered a must as it can prevent diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Although it is important to follow a sensible diet it is equally important to have regular physical activity, drink enough water, and get enough sleep for staying healthy. Consulting a doctor or a dietitian can help the parents to chart a diet plan for their teens.
Top 5 Superfoods For Teenagers
Good nutrition is essential for teenagers as they go through a period of rapid growth and development. The foods that teens eat provide the fuel and nutrients needed to support their changing bodies and minds. While all wholesome foods play a role, certain “superfoods” provide an extra nutritional boost that growing teens need.
By making the following 5 superfoods a regular part of their meal plan, teens can help ensure they are getting adequate nutrition for optimal health, growth, and performance at school and in sports.
✅ Omega-3 Fats
Omega-3 fats play a vital role in teens’ brain development and help them in learning and coping with stress. Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly found in foods, fish such as salmon and sardines, eggs, and nuts like walnuts and pumpkin seeds. These can be served to children in the form of salads, sandwiches, or snacks.
✅ Green Foods
It is known that leafy greens are one of the most nutritious foods available. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants and is low in calories. He recommends taking green foods, especially broccoli, asparagus, and lettuce.
✅ Blue Foods
Anthocyanins found in blue foods help in reducing oxidative stress in our bodies. They contribute to your overall health and fight off free radicals that cause diseases. Common examples of blue foods are blueberries, blue spirulina, and Damson plums are packed with antioxidants.
✅ Red and Orange Foods
These foods are good sources of vitamins, potassium, and fiber. And this category includes vegetables like carrots, red peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, and fruits such as apples and cherries.
✅ Whole Grains
Whole grains are typically high in iron, magnesium, manganese, vitamins, and fiber. Examples of whole grains are oats, whole wheat, and buckwheat. It can lower the risk of diabetes, heart health, and weight gain and can be served to the kids as breakfast and intermittent snacks.
We have seen how healthy nutrition is crucial for the growth and well-being of teenagers. While deciding on the diet plan we should consider the nutrient requirements of the child and what food can be fed to them to meet the required amount. All of these can support the overall performance and decrease the risk of diseases.
A: Teenagers generally need between 2,000-3,000 calories per day, but this can vary depending on age, gender, height, weight, and activity level. Consulting with a doctor or dietitian can help determine your teen’s specific calorie needs.
A: Great breakfast options for teens include oatmeal topped with fruit and nuts, whole grain toast with peanut butter, yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola, veggie omelets, and smoothies made with fruit, greens, and protein powder.
A: Healthy teen snack ideas include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, string cheese, Greek yogurt, hummus with whole grain crackers/veggies, apple slices with peanut butter, and homemade trail mixes.
A: Involve them in food prep and planning, offer new produce for them to try, make smoothies with hidden veggies, serve produce with dips, make fun skewers or kabobs, and add veggies to familiar dishes like pizza and pasta.
A: Great protein options include eggs, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, fish, chicken, turkey, lean red meats, Greek yogurt, cheese, and milk.
A: Key nutrients for teen growth and development include calcium, vitamin D, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Aim for a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy, and whole grains.
A: The recommendation for teens is 3 cups of dairy per day to ensure adequate calcium and vitamin D for bone health. This can be met through milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified milk alternatives, or calcium-rich leafy greens.