Teenage food habits are inspired by friends and media but less often by parents and family. Parents should inspire their children to eat healthy diet to build up their future health and wellness. Unhealthy food consumption makes teens overweight, which is associated with early onset of diabetes and heart diseases. Healthy food for teenagers is balanced diet that has all food groups in order to lead a healthy life. In the United States, Food and Drug Administration has warned food manufacturers to avoid labeling with “healthy” on food packaging when they contain high sugar, salt, or fat contents. That suggests that healthy food must not contain high sugar, high salt, and high fat that have detrimental effects on teen’s health.
Teenagers often have morning rush for school – skip their breakfast, have high calorie fast food in lunch, and grab whatever is in the refrigerator for dinner after getting home. Although these foods contain high calorie but they don’t add nutrients in your body. Nevertheless healthy lifestyle, such as taking right food and regular physical exercise, may help you meet the challenges of your life. Your healthy lifestyle with healthy foods makes you feel re-energized, learn better, stay alert in class and lower your risk for diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and some forms of cancer in the later life. Major diseases such as heart disease, brain stroke, diabetes are directly linked to bad food habits.
One single food group cannot supply all nutrients you need to maintain good health. Healthy food choices for teenagers should include several food groups from carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables, protein, diary, and fat & sugar.
While taking carbohydrate source choose wholegrain varieties whenever possible. Unlike the refined grains, the whole grains contain the bran and germ attached on their surfaces which are rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins. When you make foods at home buy wheat flour which is slightly darker than refined flour. When you buy food from a shop, read the label if it contains the word whole or wholegrain. Whole grain products include breads, biscuits, corn flakes, pastas and cereals. According to the USDA, our daily food should contain at least 3 ounces of whole grains.
The Institute of Medicine recommends teenagers with moderate activity eat at least 130 grams of carbohydrates per day that constitutes 45% to 65% of their calories. Athletic teens with high physical activity can consume higher percentage of this range.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with high fiber content. Vitamins and minerals need for your body’s vital function while fibers help in proper functioning of your digestive tract. When you eat fruits, try to avoid fruit juices because frits juices don’t contain adequate fibers. Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, usually 5-7 portions per day. Remember that potato contains high starch content and is thus categorized under carbohydrates. One portion refers to one whole fruit or three tablespoons of vegetables. Newer studies recommend that teens and adults increase by seven portions per day to reduce the risk of early dying.
Protein is a very important building block for teenagers’ body. They need proteins to meet the growing demand muscle mass. To meet the growing demands of proteins teenagers should consume about 25 percent of the total calorie equivalent to 5.0-6.5 ounce-equivalents of protein-rich foods each day. One ounce equivalent of protein may consist of a whole egg, 1 tbsp of peanut butter, one-half-oz. serving of nuts or a 1 oz. serving of poultry, fish or meat. Here are the Top 10 Protein Rich Foods you can try.
Although the “bad” fats or saturated fats are found in dairy foods they are very important food in teens for their growing bone mass. Teens need dairy foods for calcium that is important for healthy bones and teeth. Teenagers should consume 3 cups low fat dairy each day. A cup of dairy is equal to 1 ½ oz. of natural cheese, 2 oz. of processed cheese, one cup of yogurt, one cup of soy milk or one cup of milk.
Fats and Sugars
Most teens love fast food because high fat and sugar content make them tasty. They are highest source of calorie and daily calorie requirement from fats shouldn’t constitute more than 30%; 10% of it should come from saturated fats such as, vegetable oils and fish oils. Other foods that contain high fat and sugar include chocolates, cakes, sweets, biscuits, jam, butter, margarine, mayonnaise, non-diet sodas, etc. Today soda and other sugary drinks have replaced healthy drinks such as milk and water. Whenever possible, drinks containing high sugar should be replaced with water or low fat milk. Fats and sugar containing foods have extra calories that add extra body fat in your belly. To cut you extra belly fat read more on How to Remove Belly Fat by Proper Dieting.
Along with proper maintenance of healthy foods for teens, they should determine their daily calorie requirement. It’s easier to control the desired body weight when you know your required calorie. If you are overweight read this useful article, How many Calories Should I Burn to Lose Weight. On the other hand, picky eaters should concentrate more on increasing body weight. Picky eaters usually suffer from loss of appetite to food. Appetite can be increased by applying some smart techniques. To learn how to increase appetite, read this article Two Ways to Increase Your Appetite.