Teenage Diet Plan

Does My Child Need a Teenage Diet Plan?

If you are worried that your child may be over or underweight, then you may want to consider placing them on a teenage diet plan. What is a teenage diet plan? As with any other type of diet plan, a teenage diet plan aims to provide a good dietary guideline for the average teenaged person. The teenage years are full of many physical changes that can be very difficult for a child to adjust to. A teen’s body is beginning to build what is essentially the foundation of their adult counterpart, therefore it becomes increasingly important that the body receives all of the right nutrients. If you have noticed your child eating more junk food, then you’re probably right to worry about their diet. It is very important to encourage a healthy eating style even if your child doesn’t appear to be carrying any extra weight.

Determining the “Right” Weight for Your Teen

Part of getting onto a good diet is to know what a healthy weight range is for your child. Many medical professionals recommend using the Body Mass Index, or BMI, to calculate the ideal weight for your child. BMI uses a formula which produces a “BMI number” from a person’s height and weight. This number helps one to determine whether a person is underweight, average, overweight, or obese. For most, a BMI of 18 is about average. The only issue with using a BMI calculation is that it doesn’t take into account the weight of muscle. For instance, a man of 5 feet and 11 inches in height weighing in at 250 pounds sounds pretty overweight, right? What if that man is a professional body builder or athlete? Weight doesn’t always tell us what our fat percentage is, but luckily for teens the BMI calculator is pretty reliable.

Caution With the “D” Word

Before we get into the food, it’s important to understand that teenagers should be encouraged to eat healthy foods. Tossing around the term “diet” can be damaging to a sensitive and impressionable teenager, especially with so much pressure from the media to look a certain way. Disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are rampant among teens, and if your emphasis on a “diet” and “losing weight” makes your teen think of fat in a dangerous way, it could cause them to develop an eating disorder.

Foods to Encourage

The best teenage diet plan includes eating foods from every category. Vegetables, fruit, meat, grains, and dairy products should be eaten in balanced portions every day, but the sources of this food is very important. Yes, a Whopper burger is technically meat, bread, and a few veggies, but it’s not the best combination of these foods. Think about the meals your teen eats and ask yourself how these foods can be better presented. Lean meat, such as chicken and turkey, fish, and red meat in moderation are really the best options of protein for your growing teen. Pita and whole grain bread are healthier substitutions for white bread, If your teen likes salad, try substituting kale or romaine in place of iceberg lettuce, which provides very little nutritional value. Veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, romaine, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, onions and tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach pack the most health benefits and can be eaten in larger portions without the drawbacks of fat or sugar.

Although all fruit is good for your growing teen, some offer more health benefits than others. Cantaloupe, cherries, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, apricots, and apples are among some of the healthiest yet are lower in calories than other fruit. Bananas can also be included in this list as long as they are eaten when ripe (the skin is a bright yellow, even slightly green color), as bananas have a much higher caloric content if they are left to over ripen (when the skin is speckled with brown spots). Substituting normal pasta with whole wheat and trading full-fat dairy products, dips, and dressings for low-fat is also a wise way to encourage a healthy diet.

Dieting Alone Isn’t Enough

Exercise is a crucial part of a healthy teenage diet plan. A teen shouldn’t focus so much on lowering their daily calorie intake (unless they greatly exceed the recommended caloric intake for their gender and age), but rather they should focus on using the energy that comes so naturally at this age. Muscles are developing at this time that need to be nurtured and honed, and what better way to do so than to join an athletic team, dance or cheer squad, or take a daily walk or swim? Encourage your teen to be more active and stress a few of the healthier substitutions in their diet and you will soon find them on their way to a healthy and active lifestyle!