Between school, homework and after-school activities, teen girls might not have much time to think about what they eat. But making the right food choices can give them the energy and the mental power they need to get through their hectic day, plus the nutrients they need to grow. Good nutrition for teen girls includes a diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy.
A Word About Calories
When it comes to nutrition for teen girls, it's important to talk about calories. Teen girls need to eat the right amount of calories each day to maintain a healthy weight and support normal growth. How much they need to eat depends on age and activity, and ranges from 1,800 to 2,400 calories a day.
Priority No. 1: Fruits and Veggies
Depending on their calorie needs, teen girls need 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables everyday. Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients girls need for good health, including folate, fiber, vitamin A and magnesium. Fruits and vegetables are also low in calories and help teen girls achieve and maintain a healthy weight. To get your teen to eat more fruits and vegetables, make them a priority at each meal and encourage your teen to eat them as a snack.
Better Nutrition With Whole Grains
Teen girls need six to eight servings of grains a day. At least half of those grains should be whole grains. Whole grains provide teens with selenium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron. Iron is especially important for teen girls because they lose iron through menstruation. Low iron levels leads to anemia, which causes fatigue and weakness.
Keep the Protein Lean
Adequate protein intake supports growth and helps maintain muscle. It is also another good source of iron. Teen girls need 5 to 6 1/2 ounces of protein a day. For better health, most protein choices should be lean, which means more poultry, seafood, lean red meat and beans. Nuts and seeds are also a good source of protein, but high in fat and calories and your teen should limit her intake to four to five servings a week, where one serving is equal to 1 tablespoon of nut butter or 1/2 ounce of nuts.
Low-Fat Milk For Bones and Teeth
Milk is an important source of calcium and vitamin D, which is a nutrient lacking in many teen girls' diets.. Teen girls need calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth. Not getting enough in their diet can lead to osteoporosis later in life. Teen girls need three servings of dairy foods a day, where one serving equals 1 cup of milk or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese. To control calorie and fat intake, teen girls should be eating and drinking mostly low-fat and nonfat dairy foods.