DIET FOR TEENAGERS/ADOLESCENCE

What is it? Nutrition for adolescents (teenagers) means giving them enough nutrients from age 12 to18 years of age. Your teenager will go through several growth spurts during this time. He will become taller and gain weight quickly. Make sure he has a wide variety of food for snacks and meals. This will give him enough nutrients in the food he eats. Nutrients are calories, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.

Good nutrition is critical during the teenage years to ensure healthy growth and development. A healthy diet must meet the changing nutritional needs of a growing teenager. Being overweight or underweight can be a concern during adolescence. A healthy diet will meet the needs of the individual without providing too much or too little energy (kilojoules).

Adolescence is a critical period of growth and development, so good nutrition is essential. During adolescence, the need for most nutrients including energy, protein, vitamins and minerals increases. As appetite is also likely to increase, it is important that food choices are made carefully. It can be tempting at this time to increase the intake of snack foods and fast foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt.

DIETARY TIPS FOR ADOLESCENTS ARE:
  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods such as vegetables of different types and colours, and legumes / beans, Fruit, Grain (cereal) foods, mostly whole grain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley . Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds,Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly .
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt and added sugars.
  • Adequate well balanced nutritious foods should be taken to prevent obesity or undernutrition.
  • An adolescent teen should take enough calcium rich foods in her diet to increase bone density which delays the onset of osteoporosis.
  • No meal of the day should be missed.
  • Food should be colourful and attractive.
  • Avoid empty calories such as carbonated beverages .
  • Iron rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, jaggary etc should be included in the diet to prevent anemia.
  • Calorie and protein rich foods should be taken to support the growth spurt.
  • Include fruits and vegetables in the diet to meet the vitamins , minerals and fibre requirement.
  • Eating habits should be independent of emotions .
  • Parents should encourage the adolescents to cook at home nutritious and tasty food .
  • Home based diet should be best for children`s growth.
  • Adolescents need to be encourage to do physical activity particularly outdoor games is physical activity regulates appetite.

Evidence has shown that adolescents who frequently eat together with at least one other family member have better food and nutrient intake. Eating with family has also been associated with a reduced risk for overweight and obesity. Additionally, sharing and making family meals a priority, having a more structured mealtime environment and creating a positive family meal atmosphere are all associated with a lower rate of disordered eating behaviours and eating disorders in adolescents, particularly young women. Take a family approach to healthy eating. Choosing and enjoying a diet that includes a variety of foods from each food group, coupled with regular physical activity will help teenagers to grow, develop and live a healthy life.