Special Nutritional Needs of Teens

In theory a teenager needs three square meals a day and to eat several nutritious snacks a day to stay healthy. However most teens are as restless as they were when they were growing toddlers. That is because they are going through another growing spurt.

It may be hard for many different reasons to get your teenager to sit down with your family and eat a meal. However this is crucial to getting some control of his or her diet.

One trick is to assign one duty to your teen every day or two and that is to cook the entire family dinner. That way the teen is occupied with matters to do with nutrition and has less time to eat after school. Yet another benefit to this approach is that the food that your teen will consume over a period of months will be healthier than if you let someone else in the house be the chef.

National and population-based surveys, like one done at the have found that adolescents often fail to meet dietary recommendations for overall nutritional status and for specific nutrient intakes.

During this age emotional eating is prevalent. Many crave sugar and fat and succumb to that temptation to gorge on junk food. These results in a lower intake of a vitamin A, folic acid, fiber, iron, calcium, and zinc than is recommended

According to one study the low intake of iron and calcium among adolescent girls is of particular concern. Iron deficiency can impair cognitive function and physical performance, and inadequate calcium intake may increase fracture risk during adolescence and the risk of developing osteoporosis in later life.

If your adolescent seems stressed or sick then take him or her to a doctor. The culprit could very well be a lack of nutrients in the diet.

To stay healthy adolescents should do the following –
• Eat three meals a day, with healthy snacks.
• Increase fiber in the diet and decrease the use of salt.
• Drink a lot of water.
• For growing children and adolescents, it is generally recommended to watch total fat consumption in the diet, rather than counting calories.
• Eat balanced meals.
• When cooking for your adolescent, try to bake or broil instead of fry.
• Make sure your adolescent is not overdosing on sugar
• Eat fruit or vegetables for a snack.
• For children over 5, use low-fat dairy products.
• Decrease the use of butter and heavy gravies.
• Eat more chicken and fish.

It is also helpful for your teenager to eat by the guidelines established by the United States Department of Agriculture.