A nutritional, balanced diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle at any point of life, and something that should be taught at a young age. Good habits are taught early on, and this can be especially true for making healthy food choices. Children go through various transitions as they make their way into adulthood – but there’s a big jump from childhood into the teen years when the nutritional needs increase with the rapid physical growth that occurs during this time period. As teenage boys and girls continue to grow there are daily nutrients and habits that they will need to keep up in order to stay happy and healthy. Around the age of 10-12, children will experience a significant surge in appetite, which is a telling sign of the upcoming growth spurt they’ll go through during puberty. The human body requires more calories during early adolescence than at any other time of life – boys will need an average of 2,800 calories per day and girls will need an average of 2,200 calories per day.
A teenager’s nutritional needs mainly consist of getting enough protein, carbohydrates and fats to fuel their bodies with energy as they grow. Additionally, it’s important that a well-rounded diet delivers sufficient amounts of all of the essential vitamins and minerals necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle. These include calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D and others. Unless a specific evaluation from a pediatrician reveals a deficiency it’s also preferable that children and teenagers obtain vitamins and nutrients from whole foods instead of pills and dietary supplements. We’ve outlined some important information about a teenager’s nutritional needs below, with some tips, recommendations and advice on instilling healthy habits in kids at an early age.
- The most important thing is to encourage teenagers to eat a balanced diet aiming for three meals a day and two healthy snacks. Constant fuel is important for the developing teenage brain, as well as to make sure they have the energy to keep up with schoolwork, demanding after school activities and the physical changes and development their bodies are going through. As it is with adults, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it’s best to offer a breakfast that includes complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to keep teens satisfied until lunch time.
- Teenagers need to consume 45 to 60 grams of protein each day, whether that is sourced from meat, fish or dairy. If a child is on a vegetarian diet, they will need to increase their consumption of soy foods, beans and nuts in order to meet this nutritional need.
- Healthy fats are an essential part of a good diet, and they help to energize the body as well as to absorb essential vitamins like A, D, E and K. There are three different types of fat:
- Monounsaturated fats are found in foods and oils, and they help to improve blood cholesterol levels and lower blood sugar.
- Polyunsaturated fats are mostly found in plant-based foods and can also improve cholesterol levels.
- Saturated fats are found in red meat and full-fat dairy – they’re thought to be the most harmful fats.
Some healthy fat options include salmon, nuts, whole eggs, olive oil, coconut oil and avocados.
- Carbohydrates should roughly make up about 50 percent of the daily calories in a teenager’s diet – these are necessary for focus and energy. Complex carbs can be found in whole grains and vegetables and are a much better option than simple carbs, which are found in processed and refined products like candy, syrups and sodas.
- Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a balanced diet, and extremely important for a growing teenager. Teenagers should consume about two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables per day.
Parents are encouraged to involve children in the selection and preparation of food to help teach them how to make healthy choices. Additionally, it’s important to stick to a regular daily mealtime, highlight recommended serving sizes, encourage kids to drink plenty of water throughout the day and also make sure they get a good amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity throughout the week.
As adults we understand the importance of healthy habits and how they can affect our overall well-being and happiness. We proudly offer a variety of weight loss services and weight loss programs to help our clients achieve their personal goals so they can feel and look their best! To learn more, please contact us.