Teenage years are a crucial time in the lives of everyone because it marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. Marked by rapid physical growth that occurs during puberty, a teenager during this time experiences so many changes—including hormonal changes, metabolic changes, and of course, mental changes–that it often becomes difficult for a parent to keep track of everything going on in their child’s life. But even then, it is very important to look after the nutrition for teens during this time.
Due to rapid physical growth and increased demand for energy, nutritional needs for teenagers gain a lot of importance to ensure proper health. Contrary to popular belief, teen nutrition is not the same as adult nutrition. There are many intricate changes in a diet for teenagers that one needs to keep in mind. Today, we have compiled some vital points about a teenager’s nutritional needs that you must know about. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What is Teen Nutrition? Why is it so important?
As your kid steps into his adolescence, his body experiences so many changes and his mind goes through so many phases that to ensure proper growth, one must look into the kind of food and the liquid intake of the child. This is known as teen nutrition and it should be borne in mind that teen nutrition is very special and it should not be confused with adult nutrition at all because the nutritional needs for a teenager and those for an adult are completely different.
During puberty, the body undergoes rapid growth and several changes. As your teen grows, he will need more calories, more minerals and more nutrients such as proteins, fats etc. There is a reason behind this requirement. Calories will provide energy to the teenager for his growth, physical activities as well as studies. Proteins are bodybuilding materials.
The teenager will gain muscle mass by including proteins in his diet. Fats are required for energy supply as well. Mineral, iron, calcium—these are required in a diet for teenagers because of their individual contributions in helping proper growth and development of the body. All this shows that during the teenage years, the need for these food components is increased manifold, as compared to the adult years. Thus, teen nutrition is very important and requires special attention from the parents who want their kids to have all-round development.
How to know if your child is eating healthy?
It’s not just important to ensure that your child is eating healthy but also see to it that your child is eating enough. Sure, teenagers will want to gorge on pizzas, burgers and French fries but those foods do not supply all the nutrients that are needed for your teenager to grow. As a parent, you must have proper knowledge of a teenager’s nutritional needs before you give food to your child. This does not mean that you have to go crazy by reading the nutritional contents printed on the back of every food packet. But you can simply get an idea by researching on the web—for example, select some carbs and proteins for breakfast.
This can be a meal comprising of some bread, two eggs and some fresh juice. Also, do remember to check your child’s weight from time to time. This will help you keep a tab on his or her growth.
What comprises a complete diet for teenagers?
A complete diet for teenagers would include all the vital nutrients that his body needs to grow properly. Many teenagers fall prey to either obesity or malnutrition because their diets do not contain a balanced proportion of dietary requirements. Either they have too much of carbs and no protein or they love chicken and other meat but don’t have enough bread or rice.
So, to ensure your child is enjoying a proper diet, make sure his food contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, mineral and roughage. Bread, cereals, rice etc. are good sources of carbs while fats can be obtained from butter, cheese and such stuff. Eggs, meat and pulses contain lots of proteins and fruits and veggies can provide your child with minerals and vitamins needed for his health.
Eating healthy while studying
Now coming to some more details about a teenager’s nutritional needs, the most important change that can be observed once your child steps into adolescence are the added pressure of studies. Now your teenager is in high school and to cope with the increased amount of studying that he must have to do, it is needed that his nutritional needs are fulfilled accordingly.
To combat this difficult pressure, you need to give your child some “healthy brain foods” so that he can keep up in class and shine through! Proteins in meat, fish, milk etc. can help your child’s brain send signals to the rest of your body with chemicals while antioxidants can help delay ageing of the brain. Omega-3 which is found in cod liver oil can help the brain work harder. Apart from these, it is important to ensure proper hydration because the brain is 73% water and drinking enough water ensures proper working of the brain.
Combating teenage mental stress with proper nutrition
This is a very important point that must be brought up while discussing a teenager’s nutritional needs. Teenage is a time of severe mental stress. With all the changes happening to the body, it is very common for your child to feel insecure, tensed and overly conscious about everything. Thus, we find many teenagers succumbing to “stress eating” and becoming obese or maybe bulimic too.
To prevent these scary situations, every parent must be very sensitive to their child’s mental health. Talk to your teen, support them, make sure they don’t feel uncomfortable in their own bodies and of course, keep an eye on their nutrition. Scientists have proclaimed that eating well helps teens manage stress.
Try to provide your teen with small amounts of food more frequently. This will help them prevent sudden cravings for sugar and fat. This way, you can prevent your child from becoming obese and help them fight stressful days.
Now you can see why teen nutrition is such a big deal and how you can properly take care of your teenager’s nutritional needs. If this article helped you in any way, do remember to share it with your friends and family. If you have any more points you’d have liked to be discussed in this article, let us know. Thank you for reading this and have a great day!