Dietitians and other health professionals have long recognized the importance of establishing healthful nutrition practices during teenage years. Diet and exercise patterns adopted during these prime developmental years set the stage for life-long habits that can mean the difference between vitality and infirmity in later years.
In addition to other nutrients, adequate amounts of iron and calcium are particularly important as your body undergoes this intensive growth period. From ages nine to 18 years, both males and females are encouraged to consume a calcium-rich diet (1,300 milligrams daily) in order to ensure adequate calcium deposits in the bones. This may help reduce the incidence of osteoporosis in later years. The recommended calcium intake can be achieved by getting at least three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk daily or the equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese. For those who don’t wish to consume dairy products, a variety of other calcium sources are available such as green, leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified soy products, and other calcium-fortified foods and beverages.
To meet energy needs, teenagers should eat at least three meals a day, beginning with breakfast. Studies show eating breakfast affects both cognitive and physical performance; that is, if you eat breakfast, you may be more alert in school and better able to learn and to perform sports or other physical activities.
Snacks also form an integral part of meal patterns for teenagers. You often cannot eat large quantities of food at one sitting and often feel hungry before the next regular mealtime.Healthy mid-morning and midafternoon snacks may be appropriate for you you.
Fast-growing, active teenagers may have tremendous energy needs. Although your regular meals can be substantial, you may need snacks to supply energy between meals and to meet your daily nutrient needs. If you are less active or who have already gone through the growth spurt, you may need to cut out the snacking.
Teenager’s food choices are often influenced by social pressure to achieve cultural ideals of thinness, gain peer acceptance, or assert independence from parental authority. These factors may increase your risk for developing eating disorders. An eating disorder is an emotional and physical problem that is associated with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. A teenager with an eating disorder diets, exercises, and/or eats excessively as a way of coping with the physical and emotional changes of adolescence. The three most common types of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Each type has its own symptoms and diagnosis.
According to the National Mental Health Information Center, as many as 10 million girls and women and one million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (a disorder causing people to severely limit their food intake) or bulimia (a disorder in which people binge and purge by vomiting or using laxatives). Both anorexia and bulimia can lead to convulsions, kidney failure, irregular heartbeats, osteoporosis, and dental erosion. Those suffering from compulsive overeating or binge-eating disorder are at risk for heart attack, developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol, kidney disease and/or failure, arthritis, bone deterioration, and stroke.
Seeing a dietitian like Nastaran for medical nutrition therapy as well as seeing a medical specialist for psychotherapy are two integral components in the treatment of eating disorders. These are such complex illnesses that the expertise of multidisciplinary healthcare professionals is required.
Overweight and Obesity
Adults are not alone in the concern about weight management. In addition to the increase in the prevalence of adults who are obese or overweight, adolescent and childhood obesity and overweight are also on the rise.
Data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2004), indicate that 14 percent of two to five year olds and 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 12-19 years in the United States are overweight. The prevalence of overweight children and adolescents has quadrupled and tripled, respectively, in the last 30 years. Only a small percentage of overweight children may attribute their problem to endocrine disorder or other underlying physical problems. Overweight and obesity can be determined by Body Mass Index (BMI).
If you are overweight, you need to reduce the rate of weight gain while still allowing for growth and development. Overweight children and adolescents are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. Therefore, health professionals emphasize healthful eating and the importance of physical activity as a life-long approach to weight management and to overall good health and quality of life. Before going on a diet, a healthcare provider and/or dietitian like Nastaran should always be consulted.
Strong bones, good muscle tone, and lower risk of developing chronic diseases are some of the key benefits derived from regular physical activity. Furthermore, being physically active promotes psychological well-being and reduces feelings of depression and anxiety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Division of Adolescent and School Health, 77 percent of children aged nine to 13 years participate in free-time physical activity and only 39 percent engage in organized physical activity. Among high school students, 63 percent participate in vigorous physical activity and just 25 percent engage in sufficient moderate physical activity. Twelve percent engage in little or no physical activity at all.
Participation in physical activity tends to decline as you get older. The long-term consequences of physical inactivity include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, asthma, arthritis, and premature death. To maintain good health status you should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week
Source: International Food Information CouncilMore