If your 16-year-old daughter wants to go on a diet, she's not alone. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 40 to 60 percent of girls ages 6 to 12 are concerned about their weight -- and that concern continues through their teen years. Many teens attempt to lose weight by skipping meals, eliminating entire food groups, or by crash dieting. If your teen expresses a desire to lose weight, encourage her to make healthy lifestyle changes so that she can maintain a healthy weight, rather than going on a strict diet. Consult a doctor or a dietitian to determine a healthy weight for your teen.
Nutritional Needs for a 16-Year-Old Girl
A 16-year-old girl needs between 1,800 and 2,400 calories per day, depending on her activity level. Aim for the lower end of the range to lose weight, but avoid very low calorie diets, which likely will lack important nutrients for teenagers. Teen girls should consume a minimum of 46 grams of protein and 28 grams of fiber per day. Calcium and iron are two nutrients that are especially important but are often lacking in the diets of teen girls. A 16-year-old girls needs 1,300 milligrams per day and 15 milligrams of iron each day. For a teen girl to lose weight while meeting all her nutritional needs, she should consume 1,800 calories daily, divided into three healthy meals and two snacks.
Start With a Healthy Breakfast
One cup of oatmeal, topped with fresh berries and 2 tablespoons of walnuts with 1 cup of low-fat milk, is a healthy, fiber-rich breakfast that includes approximately 440 calories. For an easy breakfast on the run, make an egg sandwich with one egg, one slice of low-fat cheese, and one slice of Canadian bacon on a whole wheat English muffin. Grab a banana, along with the sandwich, for a total of 476 calories. Be sure to include a source of protein, such as a lean meat, eggs or peanut butter, in your breakfast and a food from the dairy group, for a source of calcium.
Lunch Choices for a Weight-Loss Diet
Whether from the school cafeteria or from a brown bag, a healthy lunch on a weight loss diet should consist of a lean protein, a small serving of whole grains, a fruit, a vegetable -- and if possible -- a dairy product. For a brown bag lunch, a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread, carrot sticks, an apple, and a container of low-fat yogurt is nutritious, and rounds out to approximately 540 calories.
Healthy Dinner Choices
End the day with a nutrient-rich dinner for under 500 calories, such as a 6-ounce salmon fillet with steamed broccoli, a medium, baked sweet potato with a teaspoon of butter and a leafy green salad. Make a quesadilla with 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese and a half cup of black beans in a whole wheat tortilla. Top the quesadilla with salsa and serve it with a salad, for another dinner that's less than 500 calories.
Snacking for a 16-Year-Old Girl
If your meals are between 400 and 500 calories each, there should be room in the diet plan for two 150- to 200-calorie snacks during the day. Make them count by choosing nutrient-dense snacks such as low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, veggies and hummus, or 1 ounce of nuts.
Exercise for a Healthy Weight
Staying physically active is important for maintaining a healthy weight. Teens should get one hour of physical activity most days of the week. If your teen daughter wants to lose weight, encourage her to stay active by playing a sport or pursuing an activity she enjoys. Exercise with your teen by taking a walk after dinner or playing basketball in the driveway. A note of caution: If you think your daughter may be compulsively exercising or obsessing over her fitness routine, consult a doctor.
- University of Minnesota School of Public Health: Nutrition Need of Adolescents
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Parenting Tips: Calories Needed Each Day
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Iron and Your Teen
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: How Many Calories Does My Teen Need?
- National Institutes of Health: Take Charge of Your Health: A Guide for Teenagers
- Lancaster General: Nutrition for Your Teen: Ages 13 Through 18 Years
- HealthyChildren.org: Your Changing Role: Helping Your Overweight Teen
- National Eating Disorders Association: Get The Facts on Eating Disorders
- USDA Nutrient Database
- Kids Health: Fitness and Your 13-to-18-Year-Old