The teen years are a period of rapid growth and development. Teenagers need more calories during this period than they will ever need again in their lives, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Teens who eat junk food including soda, crisps, candy and fast food meet their calorie needs but not their nutritional intake which is required for growth. Junk food may also affect their weight, health and mental wellbeing due to hormone imbalance.
If provided with an option, teenagers will presumably choose junk food. It tastes good, whether it is sweet or salty or fatty and they may be less likely to eat good foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy foods. This is because, in a teenager’s view, the latter type of food lacks in flavor. The non-recurrence to fruit, vegetables and healthy grains makes it harder for teenagers to meet their nutrient needs. Most teens do not have the daily intake of fruit and vegetables, reports “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010”. They therefore miss out on nutrients such as vitamins A and C, magnesium, folate, potassium and fibre. Additionally, many teen girls do not meet their daily calcium needs, and this may
increase their risk of poor bone health later in life.
Teenagers may not give much thought to how their diet affects their health, but they should, same as their parents ought to. Junk food is not only high in calories but also in sodium, fat and sugar. And it is low in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Eating too much sodium increases one’s risk of high blood pressure. Although the latter is rare in teens, it may nonetheless occur, according to KidsHealth.org, and the risk increases as one gets older. Food is high in unhealthy fat, like that found in junk food, and this may also increase a teen’s risk of high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Eating too many unhealthy foods also affects
concentration and school performance.
HELP YOUR KIDS EAT BETTER
Parents can help improve their children’s health by breaking the unhealthy eating cycle that may follow their children into adulthood. Making small changes to a child’s diet may have a big impact on a kid’s health and mood for many years. Instead of serving sugary drinks with meals, parents may recur to low-fat milk, or water flavored with orange or lemon slices. One should keep healthy snacks readily available, and these should include fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, nuts and whole-grain crackers. Prepared snacks make it easy for one’s teens to eat healthy in between meals.
Eating together is very important when trying to make small changes in a child’s eating habits. When teens see their parents making good food choices, they may choose to follow suit.
10 BEST FOODS TO INCLUDE IN CHILDREN'S DAILY DIET
Although you don’t want to get in the habit of forcing your kids to eat foods they don’t like or force them to finish everything in their plate. It is important for the development and motor skills of children to eat wholesome and nutritious foods to boost the immune system. There are many healthy foods children might enjoy. I have listed and dressed up 10 items for you to try.
Juicy , sweet and low in calories apples are a good source of vitamin C and fibre.
An Apple with a spread of peanut butter makes for a super food snack packed with vitamins and protein.
· Breakfast cereal
A bowl of sugary cereal is not a healthy breakfast , but there are many other healthy cereal options available which can be part of your child’s diet. Calcium fortified whole grain cereals with added fibre are the healthiest choice. Cheerios, Shreeded wheat , total raisin bran and Wheaties might be a few. Adding berries , bananas and crumbled nuts is a healthy way to upgrade your child’s morning meal.
For a while eggs got a bad rap for their cholesterol content but studies show that eggs are a good source of protein , iron , minerals and vitamins.
Eggs do contain cholesterol but they do not contain a lot of saturated fat . An egg a day is fine for most kids .
Milk is a good source of calcium , vitamin D and protein for kids and should be a part of every child’s diet. Unless they have a milk allergy , in that case a plant based milk substitute is a great alternative containing vitamins and minerals.
2 glasses a day is recommended as good daily source of calcium.
Oatmeal is a high fiber food that is good for your kids just like most other whole grain foods. As much as infants enjoy oatmeal, It is a little surprising that many the grow up not enjoying it as much, as they get older. You can combat this issue by serving oatmeal cookies and bars instead.
· Peanut butter
Peanut butter is relatively high in fat , but is mostly mono and poly unsaturated fat. It is better than the saturated fats that are found in many other high fat foods. Most importantly it provides your child with vitamin A , E, B6 , folic acid , magnesium, copper ,zinc and iron .In addition to being a good source of protein.
It is delicious served on whole grain tasted bread for breakfast and spread over fruit for a yummy snack.
· Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are high in fiber and iron , they have a lot of vitamin E , magnesium , phosphorous, zinc and folate.
You can roast them and snack on them although make sure your kids are old enough so that the seeds are not a chocking hazard. As an alternative you can crush them and use them to make breaded chicken fillets .
· Tuna fish
Sometimes overlooked tuna fish is a healthful fish that many kids like. Parents seem to be serving tuna less often these days because of the concerns about mercury contamination. It is important to keep in mind that with two cans of tuna a week contamination is practically impossible because the amounts would be so minimal.
A healthy tuna sandwich with whole grain bread and a healthy spread is a source of fibre and protein.
Of course, vegetables are going to be on my list. However, there is no need to force your child into eating vegetables he or she do not like. There are plenty of vegetables kids do like such as carrots, corn, peas and of course potatoes .
Vegetables are high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. If your kids are not to keen experiment with a variety of raw vegetables and serve with a healthy dip such as hummus to disguise the taste .
Yoghurt is a good source of calcium. However if your kids eat a brand of yoghurt with added sugar and no added probiotic then you are missing out on the most nutritious benefits of yoghurt.
The best option is Greek yoghurt with added fresh chopped fruit and a drizzle of honey. Greek yoghurt is high source of probiotic and live active cultures which promotes a healthy gut.