Your teenager will go through several growth spurts during 11-18 years, which requires that they be given special attention on all aspects related to physical and mental development. Nutrition for adolescents means giving them enough nutrients rather than only complete nutrition. This is crucial for them to attain optimum genetic growth in term of height and weight and mental development.
Secondly, as they enter puberty and undergo a lot of hormonal changes also, it is a stage in life when they are very inclined to favour a more social life as also binging on unhealthy and processed food items. It is therefore crucial to ensure that your ward is continuing to eat healthy and nutritive foods while engaging in regular physical activities and not merely focusing on studies to make the grade for future career goals. Further, it is important to make sure that they have a wide choice of healthy food for snacks and meals to keep abreast of the nutritional requirement of their body.
As we all know, pressure of studies increases manifold at this stage of life. In a way this also effects the hormonal balance in the body. The pressure of exams and aspiration to get selection in the desired stream (science/arts/ commerce) is the ultimate goal for most of the children. In this scenario, the role of balanced nutrition is very important. The calories and protein intake requirement of a teenager depends on the age, weight and physical activity of an individual. The calories and protein needed for growth are higher if your teenager is active in sports or if he or she is following any fitness programme. In addition, the calorie and protein requirement varies according to the gender.
–Desired calorie requirement
From 11 to 14 years : about 45 to 55 calories per kg body weight
Age 15 to 18 years : about 40 to 45 calories per kg body weight
This corresponds to around, 2000 kcal to 2800 kcal for boys; 1900 kcal to 2400 kcal for girls.
If the child is obese, there is a tendency among teens to strive to reduce weight by cutting down on calorie intake. Instead, teens should focus on good protein intake. For this age group, it is advisable to consume at least 1 -1.2 gm of protein/ kg of body weight. This also helps in the repair of worn out tissues. By adding besan/ragi/bajra atta to normal wheat atta or simply mixing the boiled daal/panner in chapattis we can increase the protein intake.
-Proper intake of vitamins and minerals
During our growing years, we do experience some metabolic and digestion issues. In this case, it is of utmost importance to boost your immunity with diet rich in antioxidants, essentials vitamins and minerals derived from fruits.
-Changing food habits
Teenagers are often very busy with school, work and sports schedules. It is very important to help them in planning their day if they not going to be home for meals. It is important to send them from home with healthy snacks or packed lunches loaded with nutrition. This will help them in avoiding “junk” food or high fat foods.
It is important to inculcate in teens the habit of eating food by setting example. Also praise their good food choices whenever you can. Try not to be critical about their appearance at this time of life, as they can easily become too worried about their body image. Eating too much or too little is harmful, so a balanced diet is very essential.
Easy snacks for kids
To make meals more tempting for teens, a few easy to make and healthy fun food options are home-made multigrain bread pizza loaded with vegetables, sprouts, stuffed sauté baby idlis, bajra and ragi mix atta momos or dumplings, hung-curd or humus multigrain sandwiches among others. While being appealing, this type of food will add to the overall nutrient content in the kids’ diet.