How to Promote Healthy Eating During Adolescence
mother and daughter cooking healthy food

Healthy eating is important to all individuals and is indeed important during adolescent years as well.  With that said, the team here at Riverside Medical Group wants to help families understand what healthy eating is and how it can ensure a healthy lifestyle and eating habits for your teenage children.

General Guidelines for Healthy Eating During Adolescence

Parents should be sure to discuss their teenagers eating habits with their children and include the following healthy eating guidelines in those conversations: 

  • Eat 3 full meals a day and include healthy snacks as well. 
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid high sugar drinks.  Fruit juices and sodas have a great deal of calories, so they should be avoided and whole fruits should be substituted for fruit juice as often as possible.   
  • Increase the amount of fiber in your diet while eating well balanced meals each day.
  • Decrease the amount of salt you use, your sugar intake, and the amount of butter you consume.
  • Bake or broil food and definitely steer clear of frying. 
  • Eat snacks that contain fruits and vegetables. 
  • Eat more chicken and fish rather than red meats, but if you choose red meat, make sure it’s lean.   

Healthy Food and Snack Choices

Use the food plate guide prepared by the USDA and Human Services for choosing foods that are suited to children of specific ages whenever possible.  The guide contains a variety of foods to eat and information on the appropriate number of calories and fats that you should eat.  Here are the important food groups to include in your adolescent’s daily diet:

  • Grains – Foods made from wheat, oats, cornmeal, rice, or barley are categorized as grains and include such foods as whole wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice.
  • Fruits – Any type of fruit or any 100% fruit juice make up the fruit category.  However, it is recommended that both children and adolescents limit the amount of fruit juice they drink per day to one cup.
  • Vegetables – Your vegetable food intake should include red, dark green, and orange vegetables as well as peas, beans and starchy veggies too.
  • Protein – Low fat or lean meats and poultry are a good source of protein as are nuts, fish, beans, peas, seeds and even nut oils and should be included in your diet.  Be sure to avoid animal fats at all costs because they do much more harm than good.
  • Dairy – Milk and other foods made from milk make up the dairy category.  Be sure to choose either low fat or fat free products and choose products that are high in calcium. 

Finally, be sure your adolescent child exercises daily and engages in physical activities more often than not since both of these components are essential your teenager’s healthy adolescent dietary plan and their everyday eating habits.

The Importance of Eating Healthy During Adolescent Years

Since the body changes during your adolescent years, eating healthy is essential to your individual nutritional and dietary needs.  At this point in life, adolescents are now experiencing growth spurts that typically involve increased appetites, which is why it’s so important to educate them on healthy food choices and snacks.  Teenagers tend to eat too much of the wrong, convenient foods and indulge in large amounts of sodas and fast foods. With these thoughts in mind, parents should take necessary steps to help their teens become more educated on healthy nutrition. Parents may find making nutritious snack foods easily accessible to their children useful as they tend to eat whatever is convenient and available to them when seeking out snacks to eat.  

Healthy food choices are essential to the proper growth and nutritional value of adolescents.  Let’s remember that good eating and good habits begin at home so parents, set the stage for your teenagers by providing them with not only the knowledge they need but healthy, nutritious meals and snacks right at home. 

Don’t Forget About Your Child’s Annual Physical

If you’re worried about your child’s current diet and how you can improve it, mention this next time you schedule an appointment with your child’s Pediatrician. During an annual physical, you can always address any questions you have about your child’s lifestyle or what improvements can be made. Don’t forget to schedule your child’s annual physical this year, for your convenience, Riverside Medical Group has over 15 Pediatric Offices in New Jersey. We hope to see you soon!

Posted in In the Media