As children move into adolescence, they often look for ways to assert their independence. One way teens do this is by making their own food choices. Gone are the days when you have total control over what your child consumes. But adolescents are still growing, so healthy choices are critical. Here are some important nutritional guidelines for teens.
Teenage diets are often lacking in iron, especially for menstruating girls. Iron is found in many foods, such as red meats and green leafy vegetables. Try to have family barbecues on a regular basis and grill red meat. Offer to help your teen make a healthy, large salad that he or she can take to school for lunch.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Just because your child is getting older, doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t need milk! Teens need the highest daily intake of calcium (1500-1800mg/day) and vitamin D, best found in milk. Studies show that for women, most of the calcium is put into bones between the ages of 15 and 30, so it’s important to increase calcium now to prevent osteoporosis later!
Encourage your child to reduce or eliminate their caffeine intake. Better yet, discourage them from drinking caffeine in the first place. Coffee, cola and energy drinks can lead to decreased school performance, lack of sleep and headaches. Not to mention, they are loaded with sugar.
No Skipping Meals!
According to a recent poll, about one half of all boys and girls aged 9 to 15 years said that they didn’t eat breakfast on school mornings. It seems they prefer sleep to food! Encourage your child to eat something
before leaving the house. Some quick and easy ideas are hard-boiled eggs (can be prepared the night before), an apple and/or a bagel with peanut butter.
One of the best ways to ensure that your teen is getting a nutritious meal is to have family meals together as often as possible. This is also a great time to talk to your kids about healthy eating. Even if you are out at a restaurant, there are several healthy options, such as a salad bar, lean burgers, baked potatoes, and water or milk instead of soda.
Monitor your children for early signs of eating disorders. One in 10 kids has an eating disorder. Look for warning signs like extreme diets and/or highly increased amounts of exercise. If you have any concerns, please contact your pediatrician as soon as possible.
We understand that sometimes you need to choose your battles when raising teenagers, but we think the nutrition battle is one well worth fighting.
Source and for more information, visit AAP's HealthyChildren.org