Nutrition Advice for Teenagers

It can be confusing figuring out how to provide your growing teen with the right nutrition every day. By examining some general guidelines, you can narrow down their calorie needs and portion sizes.

As teenagers hit adolescence, their nutritional needs change. The teenage years are a time where the body is growing and developing at a rapid rate. Not only will your child need more calories for energy, but they will also need more nutrition to grow correctly. 

It can be confusing figuring out how to provide your growing teen with the right nutrition every day. By examining some general guidelines, you can narrow down their calorie needs and portion sizes. 

How Many Calories Do Teenagers Need? 

When your child hits adolescence, they will require more calories than ever before. The calories necessary for a teenager differs between boys and girls. 

  • Teenage boys will need an average of 2,800 to 3,200 calories per day
  • Teenage girls require an average of 2,200 to 2,400 calories per day

These amounts are general requirements and are subjective to any individual needs, like activity level. If your child is active in sports, they will require a higher calorie intake amount than the proposed guideline. Additionally, proper nutritious food will help their body recover from strenuous exercise and build muscle. 

A Balanced Diet 

You may think that calories can come from anywhere. You are correct, but the calories that your growing child needs for converting to energy should come from a balanced, nutritious diet.

Empty calories from sugary drinks, fatty fast foods, and snacks are not helpful to your child’s body and should be discouraged. In fact, they may continue to feel hungry if their body isn’t getting proper nutrition.

If you prepare every meal for your child, consider that their daily food intake should consist of a balance of the major food groups, including: 

  • Protein
  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy

Balance is vital when incorporating all of the food groups into their daily diet. Serving sizes are essential aspects of a meal. By following these guidelines, you can lead your child to healthy eating habits all the way into adulthood. 

Some suggested servings sizes you can follow for a daily healthy diet are: 

  • Protein: 5 ½ ounces or more 
  • Grains: 6 ounces or more 
  • Fruits: 2 or more cups
  • Vegetables: 2 ½ cups or more 
  • Dairy: 3 1-cup servings 

Remember that these serving sizes are an average guideline for a typical daily calorie requirement. Increase the portions according to your child’s activity level.

Tips To Encourage Healthy Eating 

Eating healthy can be challenging for a teenager, especially when hanging out with friends or spending time at the mall. Many unhealthy food choices are easy to grab on the way to school. So, how can you encourage your child to sustain healthy eating habits?

Some ideas to help you keep your child on track with healthy eating include: 

  • Pack their lunch and snacks so they can avoid eating out
  • Model healthy eating habits and avoid poor nutritional foods yourself
  • Stock up on quick, healthy snacks at home like fruits and oat bars
  • Encourage healthy alternatives to unhealthy options
  • When preparing meals, use cooking methods like boiling and broiling rather than frying
  • Educate your teenager on the importance of a healthy and balanced diet
  • Teach your teen how to read nutritional labels when shopping
  • Allow your teen to take part in the meal planning process so they can choose foods that they would like to eat

Healthy Eating Now For a Healthy Life Later

When you encourage your teenager to eat healthy in this stage of life, you establish good nutritional habits for the rest of their life. Ensuring that your child has the correct vitamins and nutrients they need will help them develop into adulthood healthy and strong. You can avoid many health issues later by encouraging a proper diet now. 

It’s okay to let your child consume junk food now and then. Just remember to let them know that those food items are not constructive to have regularly, and should be viewed as a treat. Moderation is vital to maintain a balanced, healthy diet.


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