Healthy eating is important for teenagers because their bodies need the proper nutrients and calories to grow and mature. Eating a balanced diet that contains fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, fats and proteins helps provide energy for the entire day, maintains a healthy weight and keeps the body strong for sports and other activities. In addition to eating the right foods and consuming meals regularly, there are other aspects that contribute to healthy eating.
Eating breakfast jump starts the metabolism. Although it is an important meal, 20 to 30 per cent of teens skip breakfast. Teenagers who miss breakfast eat more calories during the day and have a higher body mass index, while those who eat breakfast are more likely to participate in physical activities and eat healthier. Skipping meals also decreases energy and reduces concentration. Quick breakfast options for teens in a hurry include grabbing a piece of fruit or a cup of plain yoghurt and eating a whole-grain muffin, trail mix or granola.
Fibre is necessary with a healthy diet because it helps lower cholesterol and it prevents diabetes, heart disease and constipation. It aids with digestion and discourages overeating. Teens can determine how much fibre they need with the "age + 5" rule. For example, teenagers 14 years old need at least 19g of fibre each day, or "14 + 5 = 19." Foods high in fibre include fruits like bananas, apples and pears, whole-grain breads and cereals, beans and almonds.
Eating snacks helps teenagers meet their daily caloric needs and prevents overeating. However, it is important to choose healthy options like fruits, whole-grain foods, peanut butter or low-fat yoghurt or cheese and to avoid sugary snacks like candy, soda and high-fat foods. Make snacking easier by preparing healthy options in advance like granola, trail mix, fruits or vegetables. Teenagers can also keep healthy snacks in their backpack, which helps if they participate in after-school activities.
In order to eat healthy, teens must consume appropriate portion-sized meals. Consuming too many calories from large portions can contribute to weight gain. Teens need to learn how to read nutritional labels because there can be multiple servings in one package of food. Using a smaller plate, eating three well-balanced meals or single serving sized foods, eating slowly and being aware that restaurant portions are 3 to 4 times the right serving size are ways to limit overeating. Teenagers should also avoid eating supersized value meals and drinks.
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