Rapid Growth and Development
During adolescence young boys and girls grow and develop at a rapid speed. During the early years (12-15 years old) , a number of physiological, physical and behavioral changes take place. Teenagers nutrition require an increased amount of nutrients for these changes. They should eat a healthy, balanced and varied diet, which is essential for growth and maintenance of a healthy weight.
According to HealthyChildren, The young body demands more calories during early adolescence than at any other time of life.
- Boys require an average of 2,800 calories per day
- Girls require an average of 2,200 calories per day
What are the required nutrients?
Growth and development during adolescent years are rapid , and the demand for almost all nutrients is relatively high. In particular your teenager will require extra calcium and iron .
During teen years, the body is building its skeleton. In order to make it as strong as possible, a diet rich in calcium is essential. Calcium can be found in diary products e.g. milk, yogurt, cheese. Other sources of calcium include certain nuts e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, legumes .e.g. chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and wholegrain breads & cereals, brown rice and brown pasta.
A teenager should try to maintain 2-3 serves every day. Calcium is essential to reach peak bone density and build strong bones in these years.
- Try smoothies for breakfast or a snack – they contain both calcium from milk or yogurt and vitamins from fruit. Here is a list of some tasty and healthy smoothies.
Iron can be found in lean meat, seafood, green, leafy vegetables, legumes, wholegrain, fortified cereals, eggs and nut. Eating two servings from this food group every day, plus choosing wholegrain breads and breakfast cereals, will help you get enough iron.
Iron is important as it helps expand blood volumes and growing muscle mass. Girls have extra needs for iron because of their periods. Low levels of iron in the blood can leave your teenager looking pale and feeling tired and lethargic.
- Eating foods rich in vitamin C with the meals help increase the absorption of iron.
Sample meal plan for your teenager
Help your teenager maintain his 5 a day! Fruit at least twice a day and vegetables three times – you can easily fit them after each meal or have it on its own as a snack.
- Breakfast cereal with fresh fruit and topped with yogurt
- Fresh fruit smoothie served with a a couple of pieces of lightly buttered toast
- Boiled eggs or omelette served with some fresh garden salad and Baladi bread.
Lunch at school
- Sandwiches are good energy sources along with calcium-rich filling such as light cheese, roast beef or turkey and served with a grilled veggies or salad for a balanced meal.
- 2 pieces of fruit
- Potatoes, pasta or rice served with red meat, chicken, fish, seafood or Egyptian veggies (Tagin) to provide protein and iron.
- 2 pieces of fruit