Teenagers require proper nutrition in order for their bodies to develop properly. Approximately one out of every five teens is considered to be obese and even more are considered to be overweight, according to 2008 statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The key to improving these statistics is through educating teens about healthy eating and proper nutrition. Teenagers should be eating healthy, well-balanced diets in order to reduce their chances of several obesity-related diseases as they become adults, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Eliminating Unhealthy Foods and Drinks
One of the quickest and easiest ways for teens to get back to a healthy weight is simply by reducing or eliminating the unhealthy snacks and drinks from their diet. For instance, eliminating a daily soda and candy bar treat from your diet can reduce your daily caloric intake by approximately 400 to 500 calories. This simple change can reduce your caloric intake each week by as many as 3,500 calories--that’s the equivalent of 1 lb. of weight loss per week. Not only do sugary snacks, candy and soda contain a high number of calories, but these calories contain little or no nutritional value. These empty calories enter the body and are stored as fat, which is what leads to weight gain. Replace soda with 100 percent fruit juices, diet sodas and, most importantly, water. To satisfy your sweet tooth, try some fruit instead of a sugary snack.
Eat Smaller Meals More Often
By eating five to six small meals per day, your body’s metabolism will remain high all day, which means increased energy throughout the day. This will also help you to eat fewer calories overall, according to TeensHealth.org. Eating more often helps to curb your cravings by not allowing your body to feel hungry. This reduces instances of binge eating, and it also teaches teenagers proper portion control. Many teens have a distorted idea of what a healthy portion should look like, and over-eating is often the result of taking too large of a portion during mealtime. A good tip to get used to eating smaller portions is to eat meals on a smaller plate. While the plate is still filled with food like before, there’s actually a lesser amount of food on it. It’s a quick and easy way to trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are.
USDA MyPyramid Plan
The United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, offers a free online tool that teens can use to get customized diet plans based on the latest research on nutrition and healthy eating. The MyPyramid tool can help teens determine how many calories they should be eating each day, what types of foods to eat and more. It takes just minutes to get this information, which is based on your age, sex, weight, height and amount of physical activity each day. The MyPyramid plan is based on a report called the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which is updated every five years by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services based on the latest research and findings on the topic of nutrition. This tool offers a fast way for teens to get a customized diet plan for free.