13 Jun Giving your teen the right nutrition
As teens develop, proper nutrition is essential to ensure they’re fuelled up for everything the day throws at them. This includes eating a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups and limiting unhealthy foods, such as those high in processed sugar or unhealthy fats.
Read on to learn more about nutritional requirements for teens.
Increase the good stuff
It’s crucial for teens to eat a variety of healthy foods from all the food groups, including:
Fruits and vegetables: These are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Teens should eat 2-3 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.
Whole grains: These include whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa. These foods are good sources of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Teens should eat 170g or more of whole grains per day.
Protein: This helps build and repair tissues in the body. Good protein sources include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Teens should eat 140-185g of protein per day. Healthy fats: These help the body to fight inflammation and increase heart health. Good sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Limit the bad stuff
Proper nutrition for teens should also limit unhealthy foods, such as those high in sugar or fat. These include lollies, cake, cookies, ice cream, chips, fried foods, and fast food. Overeating these foods can lead to weight gain and health problems like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. When choosing snacks, teens should opt for healthy options like fruits and vegetables or whole-grain crackers.
For vegetarian or vegan teens
As a parent, you want to ensure your child is getting all the nutrients they need to grow and develop properly. This can be a challenge if your child is vegetarian or vegan.
There are some key nutrients that are of particular concern for vegetarians and vegans: protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
Protein: Vegetarian and vegan diets can easily meet protein needs as long as they include a variety of protein-rich foods. Beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are good sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Iron: Dietary iron comes in two forms, heme and non-heme iron. In vegan diets, only non-heme iron is present, so vegans need to be particularly aware of foods rich in iron and how to increase absorption. These can include fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and pumpkin seeds. Adding a source of Vitamin C to your meal can also increase iron absorption by up to six times.
Zinc: Because vegan diets can be low in zinc, vegans should be aware of zinc-rich foods and techniques for promoting zinc absorption. Plant sources of zinc can include legumes, nuts, seeds, oats and tofu. Absorption can be optimised by ensuring enough protein is consumed with zinc-rich foods.
Calcium: Calcium is found in dairy products and dark leafy greens. Because vegan diets do not include dairy products, vegans should be aware of calcium-rich vegan foods including spinach, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is found in fortified foods and supplements and is made by our bodies when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Vegan foods high in vitamin D include fortified plant milks (soy, almond, coconut), fortified orange juice, fortified cereals and mushrooms.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is found in animal products and fortified foods. Because vegan diets do not include any animal products, vegans should be especially aware of foods high in vitamin B12 and techniques for promoting vitamin B12 absorption. Vegan foods high in vitamin B12 include fortified plant milks (soy, almond, coconut), fortified breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast.
As parents, we need to ensure teens are eating various healthy foods from all the food groups every day, as well as limiting unhealthy foods like those high in sugar and fat. Doing so will help them grow and develop properly.