Healthy Eating Tips for Teens

Healthy eating for teens means the same thing as healthy eating for adults, such as eating three meals a day with snacks in-between, eating foods from the different food groups, and eating when hungry/stopping when full. Eating well helps teens to maintain enough energy for school, sports and other activities, and to reach their full height potential.

The Center for Young Women's Health offers a number of excellent healthy eating tips for teens, including:

Don't Skip Meals

Eating three regular meals with good snacks in between encourages healthy energy levels and weight. It's easier for teens not to snack on unhealthy foods when they aren't hungry. When eating away from home, teens can bring healthy snacks and drinks.

Healthy Food Preparation

Grilling, stir-frying, baking, and boiling are healthy ways to cook food. Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to flavor food instead of adding less healthy toppings like butter, margarine, or gravy. Teach teens to trim the skin and fat off meat before cooking for a more nutritious meal.

Avoid Too Much Sugar

Sugary drinks are a source of empty energy, containing a lot of energy (in the form of calories) that teens don't need, without vitamins, minerals or protein. Teens should try sugar-free sodas or flavored waters instead of regular soda or juice. Lots of sugar is found in desserts such as cakes, cookies, and candies. Teens shouldn't avoid these foods altogether; just enjoy them in moderation.

Think Before Eating

Teach teens to eat slowly; it takes twenty minutes before feeling full. Eating when hungry and stopping when full will help balance the body's energy needs. Encourage teenagers to eat when hungry, not when stressed or bored. Fiber rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits increase the feeling of being full.

Avoid "Diet Thinking"

It is a slippery slope for teens to begin calorie counting and watching their weight. Teens should be taught that there aren't any 'bad' foods and that even so-called 'diet' foods or drinks are not necessarily lower in calories. Teens can be seriously negatively affected by drastic weight loss plans. Weight loss in growing teens can permanently affect their growth in height. If you think your teen may have signs of an eating disorder, visit the National Eating Disorders Association.