“You are what you eat”- That’s a phrase known to us all, and rightfully so. Especially as teens, it is the time period in life where our body (mostly during puberty) and mind due to fluctuating hormones both go through several changes. It is a crucial time for the development of our physique, mind and overall health. It has also been noticed that good food is the getaway to a more calm mind and the better our inner selves are, it always reflects outside. With so much dynamo occurring around us, teenagers are also a time to pause and take care of themselves. So here is a guide to help you understand how to nourish your body with the right kind of food for a healthier life.
What falls in the category of healthy foods?
Vegetables, fruits, grains, protein meals, dairy products, and oils are all part of a healthy eating pattern that incorporates a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all dietary groups. It also allows for occasional indulgences, or “calories for other purposes,” as defined by the Dietary Guidelines.
Colours, flavours, and textures vary widely among vegetables. They’re also a good source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and kale are examples of dark green vegetables and are particularly healthy for your body for they contain a large amount of folate helpful in the prevention of cancer and also contain Vit-B which helps with the health of your heart. Apart from that, vegetables, whether any, are always good for you and you should consume them on a regular basis.
Many fruits are high in fibre, which aids in the movement of your digestive system. Just make sure you thoroughly wash all fruits before consuming them, because the pesticides or dirt is what has an adverse effect on you. The best fruits are whole fruits, although 100% fruit juice counts as fruit as well and can be consumed. Choose fruit that has the fewest added sugars when buying frozen, canned, or dried fruit.
A grain product is any food derived from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or any cereal grain. Grains that are low in saturated and added sugar, as well as those that are free of trans fat, are the most beneficial ones. Whole grains are high in iron and B vitamins, as well as fibre. Some grain products are refined, which removes fibre and nutrients while giving them a smoother texture and a longer lifespan. Most refined grains are enriched, which means that after processing, certain nutrients are placed back in. White flour, degermed cornmeal, white bread, and white rice are examples of refined grain products.
Proteins and Seafoods
We all know meat, chicken and poultry are primary sources of protein-rich foods, however, seafood, eggs, beans, and peas, as well as nuts, seeds, and soy products, are all good sources of protein.
Proteins and seafood are closely related. It is recommended to eat about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, not only for the protein but also because seafood like Salmon, shad and trout contain omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA, which are good for your heart.
Choose from a variety of low-fat or fat-free dairy options. Fat-free or low-fat milk and yoghurt, as well as lower-fat cheese, provide essential vitamins and minerals while containing less fat.
Oils are abundant in calories, but they also contain essential elements such as vitamin E. Women are allowed 5 teaspoons of oil per day and men are allowed 6 teaspoons of oil per day for individuals 51 and older. Oils are better than solid fats like butter.
Now that we know what falls into healthy foods under every category, let’s quickly jump into 10 of these foods especially meant for teens and they’re well being.
- Teens should eat fruits and vegetables at all meals and snacks. This covers both fresh and cooked fruits and vegetables of various colours, textures, and flavours. Fruits and vegetables with skin on are more preferable as the skin contains nutrients too. Again, whole is better than juices. It is natural for teens to rebel against fruits and vegetables, in that case the parents need to experiment with several cooking methods or simply even start enjoying having the fruits and vegetables in front of them rather than scolding or persuading them to eat. It automatically persuades them to think that whatever is on their plate is tasty. Every day, your teen should have 2 cups of fruit and 2 and half cups of veggies (for a 2,000 calorie diet).
- Bread, pasta, noodles, morning cereals, couscous, rice, corn, quinoa, polenta, oats, and barley are all grain foods. These foods provide children with the energy they require to develop, grow, and learn. Grain foods with a low glycaemic index, such as whole grain pasta and breads, will provide your child with more energy and keep them fuller for longer. Every day, teens should consume 6 ounces of grains. One piece of whole grain bread, 1/2 cup whole grain pasta or brown rice, 1 cup bulgur, or 1 cup whole grain morning cereal are all one-ounce equivalents.
- Your child will require extra calcium during puberty in order to reach peak bone mass and establish healthy bones for the rest of their lives. Encourage your child to consume a variety of dairy products each day, such as milk drinks, cheese slices, yoghurt bowls, and so on. A daily calcium intake of 1,300 milligrammes (mg) is recommended. Every day, your teen should consume three 1-cup servings of calcium-rich low-fat or fat-free meals. Yogurt and milk are good sources. 1 and half ounces low-fat cheddar cheese or 2 ounces fat-free American cheese are one-cup equivalents.
- Teens are also reluctant to consume dairy, in that case, it is critical that they consume calcium-rich dairy-free foods such as tofu, kale, bok choy, almonds, seeds, canned fish with bones, and calcium-fortified foods such as cereal, soy milk, and bread. However, not all calcium-fortified dairy substitutes are available, so examine the labels carefully.
- Lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and nuts are all high in protein. These foods are essential for your child’s growth and development, particularly during puberty. Every day, teens should consume 51/2 ounces of protein-rich foods. Lean meat, chicken, and fish are all good sources. 1/2 cup of beans or tofu, one egg, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds are all one-ounce equivalents of other protein sources.
- Other vitamins and minerals, including as iron and omega-3 fatty acids, are also present in certain protein-rich diets, which are particularly important during adolescence. Oily fish include omega-3 fatty acids, which aid in your child’s brain development and learning. Teens’ muscle growth and blood volume expansion are fueled by iron. Because of their menstruation, girls require more iron. Lean beef, iron-fortified cereals and breads, dried beans and peas, or spinach are good sources of iron. Zinc and vitamin B12 are also found in animal protein-rich foods.
- What to drink – Water is the healthiest beverage for your youngster to consume. It’s also the most affordable. Fluoride is added to most tap water to help teeth stay strong. For teenagers, reduced-fat milk is also a good choice. It’s high in calcium, which is beneficial to bone growth.
- What not to eat – Foods like hot burgers, chips and fries, nuggets and takeaway pizza are examples of fast food, takeaway, and junk food. Cakes, chocolate, doughnuts, and pastries are among them. These foods are often heavy in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, as well as poor in fibre. Teenagers who consume these meals on a daily basis are at an increased risk of being overweight or obese as well as developing other health problems such as type 2 diabetes.
- What not to drink – Consider soda and artificially sweetened fruit juices to be desserts or treats that should only be consumed on rare occasions. They’re tasty, but they’re also high in empty calories. Too many sweet drinks can lead to weight gain, obesity, and tooth damage, all of which are undesirable. These drinks can satisfy your child’s hunger and make them less likely to eat healthy meals.
- Healthy snacking options – Snacks are teens all time favourites. Instead of having a bowl of instant noodles or for late nights, packs of chips and sweet chocolate bars, try to have a few healthier, yet easier and tastier alternatives. Some homemade granola bars, yoghurt bowls with fruit slices, chocolate oats or homemade cookies will satiate your sweet tooth, while for savoury snacks you can have egg and veg muffins, nachos and guacamole, hummus and pita bread, indian sabzi and chapati, indian upma, chickpea salad, sweet potato baked fries and lots more. As you see, there are never ending options to experimenting with food.