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A Healthy Diet for a 14 Year Old to Eat

by
author image Michelle Kerns
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
A Healthy Diet for a 14 Year Old to Eat
Three young teens are eating at a cafe. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

The average 14-year-old girl should consume approximately 1,800 calories each day, while a 14-year-old boy needs around 2,200 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In a healthy diet, the majority of these calories should come from whole grains, lean protein, low- or nonfat dairy and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Seek help from a pediatrician or dietitian if you need help developing a nutritious eating plan for your 14-year-old.

Fill Up on Fruits and Vegetables

The USDA recommends that half of any meal a 14-year-old eats should consist of fruits and vegetables. Doing so should help girls consume the recommended 2 1/2 cups of vegetables and 1 1/2 cups of fruit each day. Boys need to consume the recommended 3 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily. A teen's vegetables should be fresh or frozen and eaten raw or prepared with a low-fat method like steaming, grilling or stir-frying. Fruits should be fresh or canned in 100 percent fruit juice, not sweetened or packed in heavy syrup.

Pick Lean Protein

About 25 percent of a 14-year-old's plate at a meal should contain a lean, protein-rich food. Skinless chicken or turkey, fish, shellfish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, soy products and low-fat cuts of beef or pork can all fulfill this requirement. A 14-year-old girl needs 5 ounces daily; a boy of the same age should have 6 1/2 ounces. Each ounce is equivalent to one whole egg, 1/4 cup of cooked beans or legumes, 1/2 ounce of nuts or seeds and 1 ounce of meat, seafood or poultry. Teens should avoid fatty cuts of red meat and processed items like hot dogs or ham.

Go for Whole Grains

Grains should make up the remaining 25 percent of a typical 14-year-old's meal. Each day, a girl in this age group should aim to consume 6 ounces of grains, while boys need about 8 ounces. A slice of bread, a small corn or flour tortilla, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal grains like rice or oatmeal, 1/2 cup of cooked pasta, 1 cup of ready-to-eat breakfast cereal and 3 cups of popcorn all count as 1 ounce. At least half of a 14-year-old's daily grains should be whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, bulgur and whole-grain breads and tortillas.

Include Dairy Daily

A serving of a calcium-rich food like dairy should accompany each meal, with 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 2 cups of cottage cheese, 1/3 cup of shredded cheese and 1 1/2 ounces of hard cheese like mozzarella or cheddar all counting as a single serving. A 14-year-old needs three servings of these foods daily. To avoid excess fat, teens should choose low- or nonfat over whole-milk dairy products. Vegan, vegetarian or lactose-intolerant teens who don't consume dairy products can get the calcium they need by regularly eating soy products, dark leafy greens like kale, canned salmon or sardines and calcium-fortified items such as some juices, breakfast cereals and plant milks.

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