Healthy Eating Tips for Teens. First of all, I’m sure you’ve all heard “You need to eat your breakfast,” “that’s enough soda,” “please lose the junk food and eat some real food.” If you’re a typical teen with parents who always nag you about what you eat, these comments will sound familiar to you. Give your parents a break; they are just doing their job. They want you to learn healthy eating habits, so you’ll develop, be healthy, and keep your moods balanced.
Your body needs certain nutrients to feel well as you go through each day. The most important meal is breakfast, even though it’s probably the most difficult for many teens. Also, breakfast is even more important if you aren’t eating lunch on a regular basis, and are waiting until after school or until dinner to eat.
Your body needs a daily supply of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to get the fuel it needs for energy and optimum health.
Protein is a primary component of our muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes, and internal organs, especially the heart and brain. It’s required for growth, for healthy red blood cells, and much more. Protein foods include eggs, cheese, soy products (soymilk, tofu, miso, tempeh), fish, beans, nuts, seeds, chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. If you are interested in following more of a vegetarian diet, choose soy products, beans, and nuts to satisfy your protein needs.
Carbohydrates are our primary source of energy and play a significant 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, and sodas. These sugars are known as simple carbohydrates and can hurt your blood sugar levels and your moods.
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.
Saturated fat (bad fat)
Simply put, there are “good” fats and “bad” fats. The “bad” fats are called saturated fats. They’re found in animal products, meats, dairy foods and should be limited in the amounts eaten. Hydrogenated fats, sometimes called “trans fatty acids” are also bad fats that are known to lead to heart disease and cancer. These trans fatty acids are included in many packaged baked goods and margarine.
Healthy Eating Omega-3 and Omega-6 (good fat)
The “good” fats include the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Deficiencies of Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to decreased learning ability, ADHD, depression, and dyslexia. These fats come from your food sources. 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 “healthy” fats to include in your diet are in olive oil, avocados, and grapeseed oil.
Here are some ideas for healthy eating, and quick, easy meals:
What to eat for Breakfast?
Soy or whey shake-combine a cup of vanilla, chocolate, or plain soymilk (or use cow’s milk if you prefer) in a blender with a ½ banana, 2 ice cubes, 1 scoop of soy or whey protein powder, 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed and blend. Starting your day off with this shake will improve how you feel and function throughout the day.
Whole grain toast or bagel with peanut butter. The peanut butter will give you the protein you need to sustain your energy throughout the morning. Eggs-fried, scrambled, poached, or hard-boiled with whole grain toast; 1 or 2 eggs will provide you with an excellent protein source to begin your day, and the whole grain gives you the carbohydrates needed for energy.
Oatmeal with chopped nuts and raisins, a sliced banana, or strawberries. For extra protein, add a scoop of peanut butter to the oatmeal.
Drink calcium-fortified orange juice before your breakfast or along with it to get the added vitamin C and calcium. Consider taking a multivitamin supplement.
Fresh fruit is a great way to start your day. So, whenever possible add an orange, pear, strawberries, banana, watermelon, peaches, blueberries combined with a container of yogurt and some granola for a delicious breakfast.
What to eat for Lunch?
Egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato.
Veggie burger with all of the toppings that you would add to a regular hamburger.
Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread or roll.
Salad bar with a colorful variety of vegetables and chickpeas or red kidney beans.
Wrap with turkey, chicken, tofu, or cheese and vegetables.
Tacos made with lettuce, tomato, onions, and cheese.
Black bean soup, lentil soup, vegetable soup.
Veggie pizza or pizza with any of your favorite toppings.
And what to eat for Dinner?
Pasta made with pesto sauce, tomato sauce, or with vegetables.
Stir fry vegetables with tofu, shrimp, or chicken.
Caesar salad with grilled shrimp or chicken.
Broiled salmon with vegetables.
Baked potato with a vegetable or chili topping.
Ravioli made with meatballs and sauce.
Chicken fajitas with guacamole and salsa
Your dinner choices are unlimited and will depend on whether you or your parents are preparing your meal. Your goal, in the beginning, should be to eat a good breakfast and at least one other healthy eating meal each day. That meal should contain a good source of protein, fresh vegetables, and whole grains (e.g. brown rice, barley, millet, whole wheat, oats).
Make an effort to eat foods that don’t come prepackaged or prepared. Read the nutrition labels on the packaged foods you eat so you can learn more about the food’s sodium and fat content, as well as the many ingredients found in the packaged foods. Therefore, if you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, chances are the food, is not your best choice nutritionally.
Along with choosing more healthy eating foods, begin to exercise each day because your body requires a physically active lifestyle. Before school, jump rope for a while before leaving the house to get your blood moving. Consequently, you’ll feel better, and it will improve your ability to concentrate during the day.
After school, jump and dance on a trampoline while listening to music. (Trampolines are available in all shapes, sizes, and price range.) Exercising is an excellent way to get the blood circulating to your brain so you can better focus on your homework assignments. I’ll bet your parents nag you about doing your homework too!
Whatever physical activity appeals to you, make it part of your daily routine. As a result, it will lift your spirits and improve your moods. Exercise along with healthy eating habits will make you feel much better and more energetic. And, when you do start to age like your parents, your body will be thankful that you nurtured and cared for it so well.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have anything that you’d like to share or any opinions on any of the content on my site, please do speak up. I look forward to your comments, questions and the sharing of ideas.