In the United States, between 16 to 33 percent of children and teens are obese. Approximately one in 10 teens has an eating disorder. It is important to emphasize to teens that healthy eating is the key to well being. Teens are often preoccupied with how they look. Teenagers need to realize that every one has a different type of body and that they need to learn about healthy eating, exercise and the consequences of unhealthy diets.
A teen’s diet should consist of healthy food from each of the food groups. Fruit should be eaten instead of juice, along with fresh vegetables, lean meat, chicken, fish, dairy products and grains. Teens are often “on the go,” and preparing snacks in advance will help a teen choose healthy snacks over fast food or cake or cookies. Teens also need to limit their consumption of soda, including diet sodas. Water is still the healthiest drink.
Starting the Day Right
It is important for teens to eat breakfast. Teens need to understand that skipping breakfast in order to sleep later will not help their performance at school. Both teen bodies and teen brains need the fuel that comes from a healthy, low-sugar breakfast.
Making Good Choices
Teens should never eliminate any food group. By eliminating an entire food group, a teen may miss out on some nutrients that are critical for their still-developing bodies and brains. Fast food should be an occasional treat. Even if the bigger portion is a good deal for their wallets, teens should choose smaller portions in fast food restaurants, or share their meal with a friend.
Exercising more is the best diet tip for a teenager. Exercise takes the focus off of food if food is an issue. Teens can get their exercise by participating in sports, walking more, riding a bike, walking the dog or joining a team. To lose weight, a teen needs just 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily.
Family lifestyle can have a great impact on a teen’s eating habits. Meals should always include fresh fruit and vegetables. Milk is an important staple as teens’ bones are still growing and the calcium that milk provides is important. Snacks could include low-fat granola bars, bananas, raw nuts, string cheese and even popcorn.