Your body needs certain nutrients to feel well as you go through each day. Although it may be tough for teens, experts say the most important meal is breakfast. This may be more important if your teen wait till after school to eat lunch or is not regular with lunch. Skipping meals is not encouraged. It is better to help your teenager chart and plan how to blend eating meals and snacks daily. Three meals and two snacks are generally okay for your teen. These will take care of energy, hunger and healthy weight. These days, a lot of teenagers eat away from home. In this case, it’s better for them to take foods with them, or know before hand, where to buy healthy food.
Teens and Healthy Eating (Nutrition information)
Since food is an important part of your teen’s life, helping them to learn about nutrition would be of great benefit. The following information about different classes of food may help. Protein is a main constituent of our muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes, and internal organs, like lungs, brain and heart. Protein is primary for growth, and for healthy red blood cells. Protein foods include: eggs, cheese, soy products (tofu, soymilk, miso, tempeh), beans, nuts, seeds, turkey, beef, chicken, and fish. For a vegetarian, beans, soy products, and nuts are sufficient to satisfy your protein needs.
Carbohydrate for Teen and Healthy Eating
Carbohydrate is an essential structural component of living cells and source of energy for animals; it includes simple sugars with small molecules as well as macromolecular substances. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and play an important role in the functioning of our nervous system, muscles, and internal organs. Carbohydrate foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. The foods you should eat in limited amounts are ones that contain sugar, such as packaged cookies, cakes, soda-these sugars are called simple carbohydrates; they have a negative effect on your blood sugar levels and also on your moods.
Fat is a kind of body tissue containing stored fat that serves as a source of energy. Fats are a form of energy reserve and insulation in your body, and can be burned to make energy when you don’t get enough from your diet. Fats transport nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K through your body and fatty tissue protects your vital organs from trauma and temperature change. There are Positive fats and Negative fats.
The Negative fats are called saturated fats and are found in animal products, meats, and dairy foods; they should be eaten in limited amounts. These fats solidify at room temperature. There are also another Negative fats called Hydrogenated fats, sometimes called transfatty acids They are known to lead to heart disease and cancer. These hydrogenated fats are used in many packaged baked goods and margarines.
The Positive fats include the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Deficiencies of Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to decreased learning ability, ADHD, depression, and dyslexia. These fats need to be obtained from your food. Good sources of the Omega-3’s are flax oil, ground flaxseed, cold water fish like salmon and fresh tuna, canola oil, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. Other “good” fats to include in your diet are found in olive oil and avocados.
Healthy Eating Tips
- Learn about simple, healthy ways to prepare foods.
- Think about baking, boiling, grilling, stir-frying, or micro waving as healthy ways to cook foods instead of deep frying your foods.
- Try dried herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) and spices (lemon pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder) to spice up your food, instead of adding toppings like butter, margarine, or gravy.
- Try trimming off the skin and fat on your meat: you’ll still get plenty of flavor and it’s more nutritious and heart-healthy.
- Your body needs a daily supply of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to get the fuel it needs for energy and optimum health.
Parents who feel their teenager is overweight and want to make some changes in their food intake, can contact their health care provider. They may also ask their health care provider for a referral to see a nutritionist (a person who has studied nutrition, and knows all about food and healthy ways to lose weight and all about teens and healthy eating.