Healthy eating for teenagers

A teenage body is growing fast and needs energy and nutrients from food to develop properly. If you don't eat a healthy, balanced diet when you are young you could be putting your health at risk now and in the future.

A healthy diet gives you the energy you need for an active life and can help you look and feel great. But eating well doesn't have to mean giving up all your favourite foods. A healthy diet means eating a wide range of foods so that you get all the nutrients you need and the right amount of energy for how active you are.

What do teenagers need to eat?

A diet based on starchy foods such as potatoes, cereals, bread, rice and pasta with plenty of fruit, vegetables and some protein rich foods like tuna, lentils, cheese, milk or plant milks such as Oat Drink and not too much sugar and fat. To get the balance right you need to eat regularly and from as wide a variety of natural, unprocessed foods as possible. It is also important to keep hydrated. Water and milk are ideal drinks.

How important is breakfast?

Eating breakfast is very important because a growing body and brain needs energy and other nutrients to function properly. Studies have shown the ability to concentrate and perform mental tasks is reduced if we are hungry. If you are in a hurry in the morning take a snap lock box of cereal and fruit with you to eat when you arrive at school, college or work.

How much fruit and vegetables do teenagers need to eat?

Five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day are good for health.  Vegetables can be made into salads and cooked quickly with meat and fish to make fabulous meals. Fruit can be eaten as a snack and made into smoothies.

When can teenagers drink alcohol?

Most teenagers try alcoholic drinks but it is important to realise alcohol is a powerful drug and must be consumed in small amounts. It is best to drink alcohol with food. 

Laws on alcohol are strict in the UK.

  • Teenagers can buy and drink alcohol when they are 18 years old.
  • It is against the law for someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol.
  • It is legal for a 16 and 17 year old to drink alcohol with a table meal, in licensed premises when accompanied by an adult.
  • It is legal for teenagers to drink alcohol at home and on private premises.

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Is it healthy to eat snack foods?

Snack foods such as crisps, chocolates and peanuts can be a useful source of energy but it is best not to make them the main part of the diet. Try to eat three good meals a day and if you get hungry between meals the odd packet of crisps or bar of chocolate will not do you any harm. Toast topped with peanut butter or honey and banana is one of the best snack foods you can eat especially if you combine it with a milk shake.

Are fizzy drinks off limits?

Many soft drinks are high in added sugar and high fructose corn syrup. So avoid these. Make sure you drink some milk or plant milk such as Provitamil Oat Drink to get the calcium you need for your growing bones.

What happens if I don’t eat right?

If you eat too much of the wrong foods, for example, those high in fat and sugar, you can become overweight which will put you at risk of early onset diabetes and other diseases. Drinking too many sweet fizzy drinks instead of milk can compromise the health of your bones which continue to grow well into your 20’s. It is important to drink calcium rich drinks like Provitamil Oat Drink to supply the calcium your body needs. Many teenagers experiment with becoming vegetarian or vegan. This can be a good thing but it is important to replace the meat and other animal produce with nutrient rich vegetables, cereals, pulses and nuts which contain iron and vitamin B12 otherwise you can become anaemic.

I do a lot of sport – what should I eat?

You will need lots of slow release carbohydrates from pasta, cous cous, whole grain rice, oats and good quality bread to provide the energy you need. You will also need lean protein like chicken, eggs and tuna to help repair and build muscle.

Can I eat protein supplements to help build my muscles?

Muscles bulk is gained by training and eating a healthy diet. Your body can only use so much protein. If you eat too much it is broken down and the waste products excreted by the kidneys which can be damaged if protein intake is too high.



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