H E A L T H:
You Need Energy.
It comes from the food you eat and your body uses it for
everything you do. What you eat is hugely important. It
- How healthy you are
- How healthy you will be in the years ahead.
- How you look.
- How you feel.
What Should You Eat?
A variety of healthy foods to give your body everything
it needs. That includes foods from...
The Four Basic Food Groups (Ta-Da!)
1. Protein. Protein helps build
muscles as well as
hair and nails.
It is essential for healthy blood. It also helps your
body repair itself. (Like when you get a cut or break a
bone.) Teens also need plenty of iron (which comes
with some sources of protein). Girls need extra iron
to replace the iron they lose each month during
menstruation. Boys need more
iron because the large increase in their tissue mass
during the teen years is accompanied by the rise in their
levels of iron-containing hemoglobin (red blood
Some foods high in protein and iron
include: all types of meat (poultry, beef, pork, lamb),
fish and seafood, eggs, cheese, legumes (beans), nuts,
seeds, peanut butter, and tofu. Teens need 3 or more
servings from this group every day.
2. Fruits and Vegetables. Veggies and fruits
provide Vitamins A, B, and C for healthy eyesight, gums,
skin, and blood vessels. These guys are also high in
carbohydrates (an excellent source of energy). And because
your body takes longer to break down starches (complex
carbohydrates) they provide you with a longer-lasting
source of energy than sugar without the "empty"
calories. Fruits and veggies are also stuffed with vitamins
and minerals and they taste great.
Some foods high in complex carbohydrates
include: Potatoes, corn, squash, peas, beans, spinach,
cabbage, most green vegetables, and all kinds of fruits.
Teens need 4 or more servings from this group every day.
3. Grains. This group is another good source of
complex carbohydrates. And because your body takes longer to
break down starches (complex carbohydrates) they provide
you with a longer-lasting source of energy than sugar
without the "empty" calories.
Some grain foods include: Whole grain
breads and cereals, rice, noodles, pasta. Teens need 6 or
more servings from this group every day for vitamin B, iron,
trace elements, and carbos for energy and fiber.
4. Dairy. Milk and milk products are high in
calcium which teenagers need in large quantities for
strong bones, teeth, and muscles. Teens needs lots of
calcium because nearly half of the adult skeletal mass is
formed during the teen years! Teenage girls and young women
who drink milk with their meals have significantly denser
bones when they reach middle age and are less likely to
get osteoporosis (a disease common in older women in
which the bones become brittle and are easily broken).
Milk and Milk Products are found in:
All kinds of milk! (From whole to nonfat to buttermilk.) All
kinds of cheeses, yogurts, and ice cream. Teens need 4
servings of "dairy" foods every day.
What About Calories?
A calorie is the amount of energy found in food.
Males and females of different ages need different amounts
of calories each day. Guys continue growing until they're
about 19. So an active 15 year old guy may need as many as
4,000 calories a day!
Girls stop growing at around 15. So an active 15 year old
girl needs 2,000-2,400 calories a day. These are about how
many calories you need just to maintain your current weight.
The extra ones that your body can't burn up are stored as
If you need to lose weight, do
it wisely. Crash diets or fasting (not eating at all)
can be very dangerous. You can make yourself
really sick, develop an
and end up gaining back every pound you lost and more.
There are only two ways a person can lose weight:
- decreasing the number of calories they take in
- increasing the number of calories they burn
Do not put yourself on a diet. If you think
you need to lose weight, talk to your doctor. If he/she
agrees that you are truly overweight then you can be
referred to a nutritionist who will help you put together a
healthy diet so you can achieve your ideal normal
Don't Forget Your Vitamins!
You get the vitamins you need from eating a balanced diet
and/or taking a multiple vitamin supplement.
- Vitamin A is for growth. It also helps
you maintain healthy skin, teeth, gums, eyes,
digestive and urinary tracts. Helps repair body
- Vitamin A is found in: milk,butter, margarine,
eggs, liver, dark green and yellow veggies.
- Vitamin B-1 helps convert carbohydrates
into energy. It promotes healthy eyes, skin, and
- Vitamin B-2 is essential for smooth skin
and clear vision.
- Vitamin B-6 helps maintain healthy skin,
red blood cells, and the nervous system.
- Vitamin B-12
promotes a healthy nervous system and
prevents types of anemia (low red blood
- Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6, and B-12 are found in:
Meat, poultry, rice, whole grain bread and cereals,
and many fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin C promotes healthy capillaries,
gums, bones, and teeth.
- Vitamin C is found in: Citrus fruits (oranges,
grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, limes), cantaloupes,
berries, tomatoes, green peppers, and broccoli.
- Vitamin D prevents softening of the bones.
- Vitamin D is found in: milk and in fish liver
- Vitamin E is needed to keep up the involuntary
nervous system (the automatic body functions like heart
beat and respiration).
- Vitamin E is found in: wheat germ oil.
- Vitamin K is needed for normal blood
clotting (so you won't bleed to death when you get a
- Vitamin K is found in: leafy vegetables, rice,
bran, and sardines.
- Vitamin P is needed for healthy blood
circulation (it keeps the cell walls strong).
- Vitamin P is found in: citrus fruits, rose
hips, and paprika.
A Note On
One of the most important things you can do to stay
healthy is to reduce (not totally eliminate) the amount of
fat in your diet.
Not only is fat high in calories but it
also contributes to:
Fat is not all bad.
- high blood cholesterol levels (Yes, teens can
- heart disease
- some cancers
It has the important job of carrying vitamins A, D, E,
and K to our bloodstream.
Not all fats are created equal. Olive oil,
canola and peanut oil are better for your heart than coconut
oil or animal fat. Check for hidden fats in prepackaged
food, fast foods such as fried hamburgers, French fries and
snack foods such as potato and tortilla chips.
A Note On Sweets. We all know that cookies, ice cream,
cakes, pie, doughnuts, candy, jelly, syrup, sodas, taste
great. But all they give you is large amounts of "empty"
calories (with none of the essential vitamins and minerals
your body really needs). And sugar is everywhere! Start
reading food labels and watch for hidden sugar in lots of
foods you'd never think contained it like: ketchup, canned
soups and vegetables, bottled salad dressing!
So what happens if you continually load up
on the sweet stuff? It's just like your parents always
- Sugar can rot your teeth (It's true!)
But more than that there may be a link between heavy
sugar consumption and:
- heart disease
Too much sugar may also cause personality and
behavioral problems. (Ever babysit for a kid who was all
But I Love Sweets!
So eat them once in a while, but not in place
of "real" foods. Craving a sweet treat? Try homemade
muffins, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps, fig
or other fruit bars, even power bars, OR go for a
frozen smoothie or non-fat yogurt.
A Note On Salt.
Salt is often a hidden ingredient in many
fast foods and convenience foods like frozen dinners, canned
and some frozen vegetables and, of course, in snack foods
like potato chips and tortilla chips. Did you know that a
McDonald's milkshake actually has more salt in it than a
regular order of McDonald's fries?! How can you tell how
much salt you're getting? Read the labels for "sodium" as
well as other nutritional content. Eating too much salt
can eventually lead to high blood pressure. For teen age
girls, too much salt can make you feel bloated (full of
water) right before your period.