The teenage years are the period of rapid growth and development, so a healthy diet is incredibly significant. Healthy, active young people tend to have big appetites, and if you’re a teenager, it is crucial to consume well-balanced meals, instead of snacks that contain a high level of fat, sugar or salt.
What you should eat
It would be best if you ate a healthy diet that meets your energy requirements. This should constitute the five main food groups:
- vegetables and fruits
- potatoes rice, bread, pasta, and other starchy
- beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and other proteins
- oils and spreads
- dairy products
Vegetables and fruits
Every age group is urged to consume five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Study indicates that five portions every day can assist in preventing heart disease and some types of cancer. Fruit and vegetables also contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and are low in fat.
A portion is around 80g, and it includes:
- one medium-sized portion of the fruit that has orange, apple, banana, and pear
- a large slice of pineapple or melon
- two tiny fruits like satsuma, kiwi, or plums
- a tablespoon of dried fruit
- a glass (about 150ml) of fresh fruit juice or a smoothie
- three heaped tablespoons of fresh vegetables
Cleaned fruit and fruit juices or smoothies can be measured as a portion per day. Either of them shouldn’t be consumed with a meal because of the high sugar content that it contains, which can damage your teeth.
Starchy carbohydrates (that include potatoes, rice, bread, pasta, and many more)
Starchy foods that include rice, bread, potatoes and pasta are a good source of energy, B vitamins, and fibre. They should be utilized as the basis for meals. Go for higher-fibre, wholegrain assortments that include brown rice, wheat pasta, or unpeeled potatoes.
Wholegrain food constitutes more fibre than white starchy food, and usually more of other nutrients. We digest wholegrain food slowly, and it can make us feel full for a more extended period. They also assist in preventing constipation, protect against some types of cancers, and minimize the chance of heart disease. Starchy foods are low in fat, although the butter or creamy sauces that are usually added to them may have a higher fat content.
Proteins such as beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and more
Beans, lentils, and peas are good alternatives to meat because they are naturally low in fat, and they have high levels of fibre, vitamins, protein and minerals.
Additional vegetable-based sources of protein include:
- tofu or bean curd
- textured vegetable protein (a manufactured soy product)
- mycoprotein (a fungal protein)
These are available in major supermarkets. Eggs are an effective alternative to meat and are very versatile. They can be scrambled, cooked, poached or prepared into an omelette. Young individuals are advised to consume two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily. Oily fish like mackerel, salmon, as well as pilchards comprise lots of omega-three fatty acids, and they are healthy for the heart. Fresh, frozen and tinned fish are all excellent selections to choose.
Meat is a good source of vitamin B12, protein, and iron. A diet abundant in iron will assist in preventing iron deficiency anaemia which is a widespread condition in teenage girls. Fine meats and chicken commodities should be curbed because of the high levels of fat & salt it contains and they’re also low in iron.
Milk and dairy products that include yoghurt and cheese are essential sources of calcium, vitamins A & D, B12, protein and fat. Calcium is required to build strong bones, enhance the nerve and the muscle function.
Vitamin D is needed to assist in absorbing calcium and thus plays a significant part in enhancing the bone. Go for lower-fat assortments like semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, Edam cheese, cottage cheese, and half fat cheddars. Also, when acquiring dairy products like almond or soya, buy unsweetened, calcium-fortified variations.
Oils and spreads
Obtaining sufficient healthy fats is important for growth as well as development. The right ones are unsaturated oils and spread such as rapeseed, olive or sunflower.
What you should avoid eating
Stop consuming swordfish, shark, and marlin because these foods contain high levels of mercury when compared to other fish, which might affect a young individual’s developing nervous system. Foods that high amount of fat, especially saturated fat, sugar or salt, should only be consumed in small quantities or not frequently. Everyone starting for the age of 11 should eat no more than 6g salt and 30g of sugar each day.
Supposing you are active and consuming a healthy diet, you should be able to keep a healthy weight. If you are overweight or plump, you need to stick to a healthy diet and avoid foods that contain sugar & fat. Also, try and get lots of exercises. Teenagers should be striving for at least one hour of physical training every day.
It’s good for you to:
- avoid cakes, sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks
- consume limited fatty foods like chips, burgers and more. Also cut down on fried food and processed foods like instant noodles
- maintain a healthy diet
- let your meal be based on starchy foods; go for wholegrain assortments whenever possible
- consume extra fruit and vegetables
- ensure that you take six to eight glasses of fluid every day that include water, low-fat milk and sugar-free drinks. The priority should be on consuming a healthy diet and being active instead of losing weight
If you are a vegetarian
Vegetarian or vegan foods can be healthy, provided that a broad assortment of foods is consumed. When meat and animal products are excluded from your diet, extra care is required to ensure that you get all the vitamins, protein, iron and additional minerals that you need.
This is especially crucial if you are following a vegan diet. It’s tough for those keeping a vegan diet to get all the vitamins they require particularly, Vitamin B12 and riboflavin because these can be found in animal food sources. Thus, it is advised that vitamin B12 and riboflavin (another B vitamin) supplements are needed to be taken.
Get enough protein
Ensure you find an alternative to fish, meat, and chicken because these are the significant sources of protein. Other protein sources may include:
- pulses that include butter beans, lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas
- soya protein (textured vegetable protein
- bean curd (tofu)
- nuts, either ground or finely chopped (unless you are allergic to them)
Get enough iron
Iron is necessary when producing red blood cells, which carry oxygen all over the body, so it’s crucial for teenagers to get enough iron, particularly teenage girls who are at more risk of iron deficiency anaemia.
Some good sources of iron are:
- wholegrain cereals
- leafy green vegetables like spinach and watercress
- figs or dried apricots
- consuming foods that contain vitamin C, along with iron-rich foods, can make it easy for your body to absorb iron from your food.
You also need to stop drinking too much tea or coffee because it lessens the amount of iron absorbed by your body.