Entering into teens is like entering a new world, a world of youthfulness and optimism as also of maturity and responsibility. Teenage is the stage in human development that lies between childhood and adulthood. Teen years are the growing years. As teenage is characterised by growth and development of mind and body, it is important to adhere to a healthy diet during these years.
The lack of healthy diet in teenagers leads to health problems like obesity, anaemia, coronary diseases and hypertension. Fatigue and shortness of breath are symptoms of anaemia in adolescence. It can be avoided by iron-rich foods. Obesity is one of the basic causes of hypertension and heart diseases. Coronary heart diseases are the result of excessive intake of fat. Teenagers are advised to lessen the intake of fatty foods. Fibre rich food should become an integral part of a teenager’s diet. Less intake of fibre can lead to problems as grave as intestinal cancer in later life. About 20% of the diet for teenagers should consist of milk; eggs and meat while the rest should be in the form of fruits, vegetables and grain.
Teens should take three meals per day. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a vital factor for proper physical and emotional development of a teenager. Junk food that is rich in fats often tempts the teenagers. But for health reasons, it is best to snack on fresh fruit. Teenagers are often drawn in to fast food restaurants. Fast food is something that satiates one’s taste buds but is not beneficial for health. It is okay to have it once in a while but it shouldn’t become a part of one’s daily diet. Likewise there is a craze about soft drinks in today’s youth. Since soft drinks have a high Calorie content, it’s better to go for fruit juices and other healthier drinks.
Salt and sugar if taken in excessive amounts can prove to be very harmful to one’s health. Teenagers must supplement foodstuffs with other herbs and spices instead of using salt. Eating sweets does not mean ill health; only if sweets are consumed in moderate amounts. Apart from adding to the fat content of the body, sweets can lead to tooth decay. Binging on sweets can result in sleepiness.
- Avoid eating meat more than two times in a day. Eat fewer red meats as they contain high amounts of cholesterol. Cut back on the number of eggs eaten per day. Consuming 3-4 eggs per week will cause no harm.Milk is a rich source of many essential nutrients. Go for skim milk instead of whole milk, as the former is a fat-free drink.
- We all know how nutrition-rich, fruits and vegetables are! If we are what we eat, it is advisable to consume fresh fruit and vegetables. Start the day with a fruit juice. Eating a fruit at every meal makes the meal healthier. Incorporate vegetable soups in the daily diet.
- Fruits are the best breakfast option. Oatmeal or cereal can also be used at the start of a day. Add walnuts and sliced fruits to the preparation. Nuts will add the crunch and the fruits will blend well with it. Black bean or lentil soups and vegetable sandwiches, burgers or pizzas make a wholesome lunch. Pastas, vegetables or chicken can be some options for a healthy dinner.
- Any discussion on a healthy diet cannot end without making a mention of water! Human body is 70% water. Drink 1-2 litres of water everyday. It keeps the body internally clean and aids in the life processes thus maintaining metabolism.