A Teenager’s Nutritional Needs
Have you noticed a change in your teen’s appetite as they have started growing up? We turn to the American Association of Pediatrics for some guidelines on a teenager’s nutritional needs. Specifically, this article gives guidelines for your teen’s consumption of calories, protein, carbs, dietary fat, and vitamins and minerals.
As the article explains, it’s normal for girls to experience an increased appetite around the age of 10 and boys experience this around the age of 12. The number of calories that your teen needs to eat will depend on whether they are a boy or girl, whether they are big and tall, or whether they participate in sports.
Many parents worry that their kids are not eating enough protein. In reality, teens in the United States eat twice as much protein than they actually need! If you can, focus on lean sources of protein like turkey, chicken, or fish, or get your protein from eggs and cheese. Aim for a balanced diet that contains enough protein but also carbohydrates and fiber!
Carbohydrates are an important part of your teen’s diet because the body converts carbs into glucose to use as energy. Encourage your teen to choose complex carbohydrates (like brown rice, sweet potatoes, or whole grain bread) over simple carbohydrates (like white rice, regular potatoes, or white bread) because complex carbs provide sustained energy and also contain fiber and other important nutrients.
It is important to have some fat in the diet so that our body can properly absorb some vitamins. Teens should limit their consumption of fatty foods, though, because they can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Read the article for in-depth examples of the different types of dietary fats.
Lastly, make sure your teen eats a variety of different types of foods to ensure that they get all the vitamins and minerals they need. It is better that they get vitamins and minerals by eating wholesome fruits and vegetables than to rely on dietary supplements.
It can be easy to make small changes that ensure your teen gets the important nutrients their bodies need!