Skipping breakfast, preferring fast food over home-cooked food, and drinking too much soda and energy drinks are some bad eating habits teenagers adopt as they grow up. It is easy for them to go off healthy eating habits, especially when they get a little freedom and escape from strict supervision.
While you may worry about their bad eating habits or what they might be eating when they are not in front of you, this worry won’t take you anywhere. You have to understand that this is one of the phases which is part of your kid’s normal development. Instead of fretting, you can try to look after the following nutritional needs of the teenager in your house.
- Proper calcium intake
Calcium is indispensable for bone growth and strength. If you can optimize the bone health of your kid, you can prevent the bones from fractures. Also, maintaining bone health during the teenage helps prevent the onset of problems like osteoporosis for girls when they begin to age.
Women are more at risk of developing bone issues if they don’t fulfill their calcium requirements. The daily recommended intake (DRI) for girls aged 13 to 17 is 1300 mg/day. Males of the same age group have the daily recommended intake (DRI) requirement of around 1400 mg/day.
Children with diseases such as cerebral palsy (a condition that affects muscle movement and posture) also require calcium and vitamin D intake. Cerebral palsy can be of different types, but the need for daily calcium intake remains constant for every kid with this condition. Teenagers can fulfill their calcium intake requirements through various means. You can provide calcium in the form of pills or give it through multiple foods such as cheese, yogurt, Orange juice fortified with calcium (150 mg), 250 ml milk, and so on.
It is the age where teenagers are fighting for independence, and imposing food choices will result in adverse outcomes. Don’t try to impose food choices as kids grow. Instead, increase their exposure to healthy eating guidelines and the negative impact of fizzy drinks and chips on their health.
- Enough iron intake
Iron has an essential function to perform in our body. It assists the blood in carrying oxygen to the muscles, lungs, and all other body parts. As the kids grow, their iron intake also increases. Due to this, iron also has a role to play in maintaining brain health and boosting immunity.
Teens need more iron as their lean body mass increases. Females also need iron as they start menstruating. The daily iron requirements of girls are more than boys. Girls need 5 milligrams of iron daily, while boys need 11 milligrams daily.
Iron comes from various foods such as poultry, seafood, beans, enriched grains, and leafy green vegetables. It is easier for the body to integrate iron received from animal sources compared to the one sourced from plants. For better absorption, you must pair the latter with vitamin C intake.
Grains are essential for the body too. They are naturally higher in fiber, making you feel full and satisfied. This way, grains also help maintain healthy body weight— an essential requirement for your teen as they grow.
According to the dietary requirements for Americans, half of all the grains they eat every day should be whole. Whole grains are a source of essential nutrients such as B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, folate, selenium, iron, etc.
Whole grains are either found in their whole form or are ground into flour. People in different cultures and geographical regions use whole grains in different ways. Sometimes, they are eaten as a single ingredient, such as rice, while at other times, they are part of a recipe, such as buckwheat in pancakes.
Teens need to eat 6 ounces of grains every day. One ounce equals about one slice of whole grain bread or ½ cup of brown rice or whole grain pasta.
Taking enough proteins is another dietary requirement for your teens. They are essential for life and must be part of each meal plan. The amount of protein a teenager needs depends on their weight, gender, and how active their daily life is.
In general teenage boys require approximately 52 grams of protein per day. On the contrary, girls need about 46 grams per day. But the protein requirements will significantly change if you are underweight or have more physical activity during the day. Foods that can give you enough proteins include beef, chicken, eggs, cheese, milk, turkey, etc.
- Healthy eating habits
Apart from the nutrients mentioned above, you must ensure that your teen has healthy eating habits. Due to inconsistent eating habits, teens fail to meet their daily nutrition requirements of fruits, vegetables, hydration, etc. So, it falls on you to see to this issue. It would help if you addressed the following dietary concerns in your teenage children to keep them healthy.
Don’t let them skip breakfast
Taking breakfast ensures that your kid’s nutritional needs are fulfilled. In their hurry to meet their friends or to reach school on time, they may try to skip their breakfast. Try to make breakfast they can munch on while walking or on the bus.
Decrease the consumption of processed food
Processed food such as snacks, fizzy and soft drinks are easy to eat and buy and palatable too. Therefore, you might find your teen more attracted to them. But they are empty calories and provide no nutritional value to your kid.
Reduce eating outside
When you eat outside, you don’t care what you eat and focus more on the taste. Outside food contains fats, salt, and other seasonings and sauces. Consuming more pizza, burgers, and salty food increases the risk of obesity.
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Teenagers require a lot of nutrients because they are still growing. The amount of nutrients a teen requires depends on their physical activity levels and many other factors. Contrary to fulfilling their nutritional needs, it is common to find teenagers displaying bad dietary habits as they grow up. You can ensure your teenagers eat healthily by teaching them about nutritional requirements and organizing healthy alternatives.