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Nourishing Your Teens

Are you worried that your teenager 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 teenager’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 adolescents 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 teenager’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!


If you would like help transitioning your teenager or your family to a healthier diet, then check out this article here or book a nutrition consultation with me here.


Langley-Evans, S. (2009). Nutrition: a lifespan approach. Retrieved from

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.

NHMRC. (2017). NRV Summary Tables. Retrieved from:

Salam, R. A., Hooda, M., Das, J. K., Arshad, A., Lassi, Z. S., Middleton, P., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2016). Interventions to Improve Adolescent Nutrition: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 59(4 Suppl), S29–S39.

Sarris, J. & Wardle, J. (2010). Clinical Naturopathy An evidence-based guide to practice. Chatswood: ElsevierSheehy, T. & Kolahdooz, F. (2015). Nutrition at a Glance. John Wiley & Sons Retrieved from:

Whitney, E., Rolfes, S.R., Crowe, T., Cameron-Smith, D. & Walsh, A. (2014). Understanding Nutrition. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning

Webster-Gandy, J. et al., (2011). Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics, UK: Oxford University Press, Retrieved from:


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