It’s common sense: more growth demands greater nutrition. For girls, the growth spurt happens between 11 to 15 years and ‘in boys it is 13 to 16 years. In teenage years, girls and boys attain puberty, a process that involves maturing of the body and attaining maximum height along with bone mass. In girls, the body fat increases to 22 percent from 19 post-puberty, whereas boys acquire two times more muscle mass than girls.
KEY NUTRIENTS REQUIRED BY TEENAGERS
Growing kids need a lot of calories to support rapid growth. For girls approximately 2200 calories per day is the requirement, while for boys it lies between 2500-2900, and these calories should come from quality foods sources instead of junk foods.
Protein plays a critical role in physical growth and 15-20 percent of calories should come from proteins. Teens on a vegetarian diet need to be careful about their protein consumption.
Iron deficiency anaemia is common in teenagers in both girls and boys. Prior to adolescence, both girls and boys have equal amount of lean body mass, but in teenage years, boys double their lean muscles, as compared to girls. This raises the need for iron for building haemoglobin, the red pigment in blood that carries oxygen and the related protein myoglobin in muscle. When menstruation begins in girls, they need additional iron from foods to fill in the gaps.
During early adolescence between 10-14 years in girls and 12-16 years in boys, around 45 percent of an adult skeletal mass is formed. For teens, the daily recommendation of calcium is 1300 milligrams daily and this critical nutrient goes missing from the plates of most teens. Good sources of calcium-rich foods include low-fat dairy foods, leafy greens and soy-based foods. Calcium deficiency increases vulnerability to fractures in later years.
Abundantly found in fruits, vegetables and grains, water-soluble B vitamins play an important role in cell metabolism. Large amounts of the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin are needed to meet the energy requirements of teens.
HEALTHY EATING BEHAVIOURS IN TEENAGERS
Mostly in teenage years, children develop food fancies and begin to prefer junk foods to wholesome meals. Therefore, it becomes a challenge for mothers to instill healthy eating habits in teens. Go easy and make small changes in the eating plan of teenagers to improve their diet and nutrition.
- Reduce sugary drinks, like soft drinks and energy drinks. Water is a healthier alternative.
- Keep healthy food choices at home, like a bowl of fruits, cereals
- Eat a healthy breakfast every day, like whole grain cereals, eggs, fruits
- Rather than coercing the teenager to have three big meals, allow them to eat 6 smaller and lighter meals spaced out through the day
- Encourage teenagers to experiment with the food. They are more likely to eat stuff that they have dished out on their own
Avoid building battle- line around food with teenage children. Allow them to develop their taste and be a good role model. Your children are likely to follow what they see.