Healthy eating for teens
As a teenager, your body is going through many physical changes - changes that need to be supported by a healthy, balanced diet.
By eating a varied and balanced diet as shown in the Eatwell Guide, you should be able to get all the energy and nutrients you need from the food and drink you consume, allowing your body to grow and develop properly. Some important nutrients to be aware of are:
Eating healthily doesn't have to mean giving up your favourite foods. It simply means eating a variety of foods and cutting down on food and drinks high in fat and sugar, such as sugary fizzy drinks, crisps, cakes and chocolate. These foods should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts.
If you're watching your weight, a healthy, balanced diet is the way to go. Dieting, skipping breakfast or starving yourself don't work.
Here are some tips to help you eat more healthily:
Don't skip breakfast
Skipping meals won't help you lose weight and is not good for you, because you can miss out on important nutrients. Having breakfast will help you get some of the vitamins and minerals you need for good health. Try our healthy breakfast ideas.
Get your 5 A DAY
Fruit and vegetables are good sources of many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs during your teenage years. Aim to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg a day. Find out what counts as 5 A DAY.
Healthier snack ideas
Cut down on food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt, such as sweets, chocolate bars, cakes, biscuits, sugary fizzy drinks and crisps, which are high in calories (energy). Consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain and becoming overweight. Get tips on eating less sugar, fat and salt.
Aim to drink six to eight glasses of fluids a day - water and lower-fat milk are all healthy choices.
Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary. Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day - which is a small glass.
For example, if you have 150ml of orange juice and 150ml smoothie in one day, you'll have exceeded the recommendation by 150ml.
If you often feel run down, you may be low on iron. Teenage girls are especially at risk because they lose iron during their period. Try to get your iron from a variety of foods. Some good sources are red meat, breakfast cereals fortified with iron, and bread. Find out more in iron deficiency.
Vitamin D helps keep bones and teeth healthy. We get most of our vitamin D from the sun, but it is also available in some foods. Find out more about getting vitamin D.
Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium include milk and other dairy products, and leafy green vegetables. Find out more about calcium.
Diets that promise quick weight loss are often not nutritionally balanced, meaning you could miss out on important vitamins and minerals. They also tend to focus on short-term results, so you end up putting the weight back on. Get tips on losing weight the healthy way.
Does eating make you feel anxious, guilty or upset? An eating disorder is serious and is not something you should deal with on your own. Talk about it with someone you trust. Learn more in eating disorders explained.
Article provided by NHS Choices