The Critical Two: What Your Teen Needs

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The Critical Two: What Your Teen Needs

The Critical Two: What Your Teen Needs

You may be aware of what a baby needs to be healthy, but do you know what your teenager should be eating?
When your teenager was a baby, it was easy to keep them satisfied. They drank breast milk or formula, and you knew they were getting all the nutrients and nourishment they needed. However, as they got older, it may have become harder to get them to eat what you give them and stay away from foods that are high in fat and sugar.

This is especially true during teenage years. If your teen is busy with sports and schooling, it becomes all too easy to pick up a bag of chips from the shop on the way to school or opt for an energy drink for a quick pick-me-up, as opposed to water. However, as a parent, it’s crucial that you help them to receive as many vitamins and nutrients as possible, with two of the most important being calcium and iron.

Why calcium?

Teenagers are growing, and it’s not uncommon to particularly see males, go through accelerated growth between the ages of 12 and 15. During this time, when the skeleton is experiencing significant changes, it’s crucial to include as much calcium in their diet as possible.

Opt for two or three servings of yoghurt, milk or cheese per day, or even try canned fish, beans, cereal, nuts and wholegrain bread. It also wouldn’t hurt to encourage them to drink more water, milk, or even smoothies with yoghurt. During this crucial time of growth, calcium is essential.

Why iron?

Iron is vital for both teenage boys and girls, but it’s particularly important for girls. Iron levels can drop dramatically during a girl’s period, so iron-rich food becomes even more critical. Be sure to include eggs, lean meat, chicken, fish, seafood, cereals, beans, and nuts into their diet. If they are more likely to pick up foods high in sugar and fat from the shop as opposed to packing a lunch, it may be a good idea to set some time aside to pack a lunch for them. While this is far from promoting independence, it does ensure they are getting beneficial foods to help them in the long run.

It’s hard to know whether your teenager is getting enough vitamins and minerals. After all, they are growing up and are starting to make food decisions for themselves. However, you can do your part by ensuring the cupboards are filled with nutritious and delicious snacks and meal choices that are rich in essential vitamins and nutrients for growth.


KidsHealth – Growth and Your 13- to 18-Year-Old