Nourishing Your Teens
Updated: Feb 23
Are you worried that your teen isn't eating as well as you'd like? Are you wondering what and how much your teen should be consuming each day?
Did you know that with all the growth and maturation changes going on in an adolescent’s body as they pass through puberty there are additional energy and nutritional requirements? These, however, are not the same for your teen as they are for their best friend or the person they sit next to in English each day. For example, a very active boy of 15 may need 14,000 kilojoules per day (kJ/d) just to maintain weight whilst a sedentary girl of 15, whose growth is at a standstill may need less than 8200 kJ/d to avoid gaining weight.
Many teenagers are often low in their consumption of several macro and micro nutrients. These are the components that are crucial in helping their body to be energised, strong, emotionally balanced and healthy both now and in the future. 27% of girls (in UK) aged 11-18 years are deficient in iron and 85% girls aged 12-16 years are low in calcium. This could affect their ability to do well in their studies, their ability to be successful in sport and even maintain energy levels to enjoy their social events. Furthermore, problems of obesity, eating disorders, binge drinking and less physical activity also affect the nutritional health of many adolescents.
Ideally, your teen should be encouraged to eat
a wholefood, balanced diet with regular meals and healthy snacks in a positive, family-orientated setting.
plenty of fruit and vegetables every day. (7-8 serves)
carbohydrates which are the major source of energy in the body, aiming for approximately 55% of total energy intake (6-7 serves)
fat which is important for tissue, membrane and hormone synthesis (up to 35% of total energy intake) - choose healthy fats like olive oil, fish, avocado, nuts and seeds
protein as demands peak during the pubertal growth spurt (approximately 12-14% energy intake) - choose lean red meat (especially menstruating girls to maintain iron levels), fish and poultry, legumes and other plant-based proteins
calcium-rich foods e.g. full-fat milk, yoghurt, cheese, green leafy vegetables to ensure adequate calcium for bone mineralisation; aim for 3-4 serves milk/dairy type products per day
and to limit intake of fatty, sugary, fast-food, highly refined foods and beverages.
An adolescent’s food and drink choices will be increasingly based upon their own, peers’ and social media’s information and trends. As a parent, you have less control over what they choose to eat, especially outside of the home. However, you can ensure that there are plenty of healthy snack options within your fridge and pantry and you can encourage family mealtimes, providing nourishing meals.
Suggest this easy-to-make and nourishing smoothie for breakfast or a snack.
Banana, Berry & Oat Smoothie
½ frozen banana
⅓ cup frozen berries
½ cup full fat milk
⅓ cup yoghurt
⅓ cup oats
1 tbsp LSA
Blitz all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Enjoy!
NB These recommendations are based on healthy individuals with no allergies or additional health considerations. If you require, more individualised advice, please contact Julie Landon.
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Moore, M., Braid, S., Falk, B., & Klentrou, P. (2007). Daily calcium intake in male children and adolescents obtained from the rapid assessment method and the 24-hour recall method. Nutrition Journal, 6, 24. http://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-6-24
NHMRC. (2017). NRV Summary Tables. Retrieved from: https://www.nrv.gov.au/resources/nrv-summary-tables
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