Teenagers And Dieting

Published:December 1st, 2011

© Gabriella Fabbri; www.sxc.hu

A healthy, balanced diet and regular physical activity is required to support proper growth and cognitive development in teenagers. Many researches have concluded that frequent dieting by teenagers inhibits growth. Furthermore, frequent dieting results in being overweight in later years.

With respect to growth, teenagers have a high need for calcium and protein. They have to include foods from all groups to meet their daily nutritional requirements. Several diet plans restrict consumption of certain food groups which can result in certain deficiencies. Studies have shown that most adolescent girls do not meet the daily requirements for calcium and most teenagers do not consume five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The intake is further limited when a teen goes on a diet.

It is advisable to consult your pediatrician or registered dietitian if you have an obese teenager rather than going on a commercialized diet plan. The registered dietitian can help your teen determine his or her weight goal and design a plan that includes all the necessary nutrients while remaining in the calorie target. They can also help your teen develop healthy eating habits that will stay with him throughout his life.

Foods to Encourage

Teenagers who choose more nutrient dense foods will have less room for empty calories. Nutrient dense foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low fat dairy products and some heart healthy fats. Vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables, lean meats and grains will support proper development of all organ systems. They also provide protein and energy for proper body functioning and muscle development. Fiber found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables will support growth and development, promotes satiety and prevent heart disease. Early satiety can prevent over eating and subsequent weight gain.

Whole grains include wheat, bulgur, quinoa, barley and oats. Choosing whole grains for carbohydrates and limiting the intake of processed foods and simple sugars will cut down on the calories without sacrificing nutrient contents. Healthy fats include vegetable oils, nuts, avocado and fish oil.

Foods to Avoid

Consumption of high calorie foods such as fried foods, overly sweet foods and foods with added sugar can increase the intake of calories which results in excess weight gain.

Saturated and trans-fats like butter, lard, shortening, margarine, fat from meat, chicken skin, cream and partially hydrogenated oils are particularly unhealthy and high in calories. Consumption of things like cookies, candies, cakes and pies should be limited and close attention should be paid to the portion sizes of these items.

For a teenager, the focus should be on maintaining the weight, eating a balanced meal and doing physical activity daily. There should be at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity planned for a teen. As a teen gets busy with school work and other commitments, activity takes a backseat. Encourage your teen to get moving even if it is in short spurts rather than one long interval.

Weight loss should be the focus only when the body mass index (BMI) of the teen is greater than 30. Encourage your teen to choose healthy eating habits and focus on lifestyle changes rather than short dieting phases.

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