Teenagers

Adolescents and nutrition

One for the teenagers in your lives.

As your body is still growing, it’s vital that you eat enough good quality food and the right kinds to meet your energy and nutrition needs.

Being a teenager can be fun, but it can also be difficult as your body shape changes. These physical changes can be hard to deal with if they aren’t what you are expecting. There can be pressure from friends to be or look a certain way, and this might affect the foods you eat. It’s not a good time to crash diet, as you won’t get enough nutrients, and you may not reach your full potential. Following a sensible, well-balanced diet is a much better option, both for now and in the long term.

What should I eat

Eating three regular meals a day with some snacks will help you meet your nutrition needs. Skipping meals means you will miss out on vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, which can leave you lacking energy or finding it hard to concentrate.

  1. Breads, grains and cereals are carbohydrates that provide energy for your brain and muscles. They’re also an excellent source of fibre and B vitamins. Without enough carbohydrates you may feel tired and run down. Try to include some carbohydrates at each mealtime.
  2. Fruit and vegetables have lots of vitamins and minerals which help boost your immune system and keep you from getting sick. They’re also very important for healthy skin and eyes. It’s recommended you eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day.
  3. Meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and legumes (e.g. beans and lentils) are good sources of iron and protein. Iron is needed to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around your body. During your teenage years, you’ll start to menstruate, or get your period, and this leads to loss of iron. If you don’t get enough iron, you can develop anaemia, a condition that can make you feel tired and light-headed and short of breath. Protein is needed for growth and to keep your muscles healthy. Not eating enough protein when you are still growing, or going through puberty, can lead to delayed or stunted height and weight. Not enough protein is common when you go on strict diets. Include meat, chicken, fish or eggs in your diet at least twice a day. Fish is important for your brain, eyes and skin. Try to eat fish 2 to 3 times a week.

    If you are vegetarian or vegan and do not eat meat, there are other ways to meet your iron needs, for example, with foods like baked beans, pulses, lentils, nuts and seeds.

  4. Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt help to build bones and teeth and keep your heart, muscles and nerves working properly. You’ll need three and a half serves of dairy food a day to meet your needs.
  5. Eating too much fat and oil can result in you putting on weight. Try to use oils in small amounts for cooking or salad dressings. Other high-fat foods like chocolate, chips, cakes and fried foods can increase your weight without giving your body many nutrients.
  6. Fluids are also an important part of your diet. Drink water to keep hydrated, so you won’t feel so tired or thirsty. It can also help to prevent constipation.

 

 

 

 

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