Teenagers need a balanced diet to support the many physical changes their bodies are going through, and it is important they do not diet excessively or skip meals.
A healthy and varied diet is essential to ensure teenagers get all the nutrients and energy they need to develop and grow properly, with calcium, vitamin D and iron among the most important nutrients required.
Most teenagers would be horrified at the idea of giving up all of their favourite foods. However, eating healthily does not mean they can no longer have these – it simply means they should try to reduce the amount of food and drink which is high in sugar and fat, such as chocolate, crisps, cakes and fizzy drinks.
The following tips can help:
– Starting the day with a good breakfast is vital to ensure teenagers don’t miss out on the vitamins and minerals required to stay healthy. Skipping breakfast rarely aids weight loss and can affect levels of concentration.
– Teenagers are going through a period of rapid growth, and as such need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. They should aim to eat a minimum of seven pieces of vegetables and fruit each day.
– Replace high sugar and high fat foods like fizzy drinks and chocolate with healthier alternatives, such as fruit, nuts and seeds.
– Where possible, choose water or half-fat milk over sugary drinks. Try to drink between six and eight glasses of fluid daily.
Vitamins and Minerals
Excessive tiredness can be a sign of low iron levels. Teenage girls are particularly at risk of anaemia, especially if they suffer from heavy periods. Choose iron rich foods such as red meat and fortified bread and cereals. Teenagers who are iron deficient would benefit from taking a daily iron supplement, such as blue iron.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy teeth and bones. In the summer months we can get most of the vitamin D we need from the sun, but teenagers may need to take extra supplements, especially during the long winter months.
Dairy products such as milk, as well as green, leafy vegetables contain a good source of calcium, important for healthy bones and teeth. Teenagers should include these in their diets to aid healthy growth.