Nurturing Teen Spirit

Of course, it’s undeniable that by providing healthy foods and a nurturing environment, we can help to ensure our teenage kids are able to make responsible decisions regarding their diets and in so doing, lay the foundations for a healthy lifestyle.

The importance of adequate calorie consumption! While the recommended dietary allowance is between 2500 and 3000 calories for boys and 2200 calories for girls, one should remember that energy requirements can be vastly different from one teen to another. Furthermore, requirements are also aff3cted by factors such as stage of development and rate of growth.

The importance of Iron!
Both boys and girls need iron and while boys should ideally be on a diet which is high in iron in order to cater for muscle mass and an increase in blood volume, girls need to increase iron intake once they start menstruating. Ideally, teens as well as adults should aim to get iron from foods such as fish, meat and poultry. Of course, while many other foods such as cereals, spinach and fortified soy products also contain iron, many also contain certain compounds which impair the absorption of iron. If these foods are used as a source of iron, then foods such as oranges, tomatoes, peppers and broccoli should be eaten alongside them.

The importance of Calcium!
Essentially, teenagers have far higher calcium requires than what adults do. Likewise, the ability to absorb and retain calcium is also more crucial at this stage than at any other stage of their life. In particular, studies suggest that a vast amount of teenage girls fail to consume an adequate amount of calcium in their diets even though calcium is readily available in foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt and soy products. In fact, yogurt is recommended as a source of calcium, particularly for teens which are active.

Eating a healthy breakfast!
It is without argument, every parent’s responsibility to ensure their teenage kids understand the importance of eating a healthy breakfast in order to start each day the right way. Foods such as instant oatmeal, whole wheat toast, certain cereals and granola bars are not only nutritious, but they also require a minimum amount of preparation.

An enticing kitchen gets the message across!
Let’s face it; you can get the better of most teens simply by making the kitchen a place they can’t resist. Of course, for teenagers, being able to make their choice is vital so always bear this in mind. If your cupboards are empty and your refrigerator has nothing but salads in it, your kids are going head straight for the nearest junk food outlet. Instead, keep a well stocked fruit basket on display, and make sure there are healthy options in the refrigerator such as yogurts, fresh juice, cheese, milk, and even some pre-sliced raw vegetables.

Discourage junk food! While adults may well opt for freshly squeezed orange juice rather than Pepsi, it’s highly unlikely that teens will do the same. If you keep a variety of soda-pops and processed foods in your kitchen, you can’t possibly expect your kids to resist the temptation. Instead, limit their choice to foods such as cheese, frozen yogurt, fresh juice, vegetables and dip, healthy sandwiches and etc.

Set an example by leading from the front!
Remember, your teenage kid is certainly not going to see why he or she should be snacking on fruit and raw vegetables, while you get stuck in to a Big Mac. You need to set an example, as does everyone else in the family because healthy diets are in fact a family affair.

The importance of family meals!
Not only is eating together as a family important with regards to bonding, but it also makes it easier to promote healthy eating habits. Whenever possible, try to ensure the entire family eats together and during these times, be sure to avoid all forms of confrontation. Essentially, meal times should be relaxing and enjoyable for one and all.