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Teenagers And Diets

Good nutrition is essential for everyone, but it’s especially important for growing teenagers.  The teenage body demands more calories during early adolescence than at any other time of life. Boys require an average of 2,800 calories per day while girls require an average of 2,200 calories per day.


Teens need to have three nutritious meals every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner and all three meals should consist of a variety of foods from the various food groups.


Please go to our section on “Nutrition and see Nutrition for teens and the food chart”


Teens And Diets


Possibly because of the many ads on television, in magazines and now on the web where the perfect image of very slender women and men with six packs are highly featured, many teens tend to be self-conscious of their.  This sometimes result in teens having negative body images and they often seek to ‘look better’ by dieting.


A good way to feel better about one self is to care for your body by eating well and being physically active.

To eat healthy:


  • Eat a wide variety of foods every day from the food groups

  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

  • Eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel full.

  • Choose water instead of soft drinks or juice.

  • Choose foods that are high in fibre like bran, wheat and rye, including cereal or cereal bars.

  • When you eat out, stop eating once you feel full.

  • Don’t use food to make yourself feel better when you are bored, sad or upset.

  • It is ok to have “junk food” sometimes but do not make it your regular meals.

  • To get physical activity that you need

  • Spend time every day doing something active that you enjoy, with people you enjoy.  You can begin a sport, take walks, go swimming or join a program to get active.

  • If you think you worry too much about your weight or if your body image is interfering with your happiness, try to tell an adult you trust, like a parent or doctor.

  • Teens should stay away from diets especially some of the unhealthy diets that we so often hear or read about. 


Teens who diet:


  • are likely to weigh MORE by the time they are young adults

  • are more unhappy with their weight,

  • tend to “feel fat” even if they are not,

  • have lower self-esteem

  • feel less connected to their families and schools,

  • feel less in control of their lives,

  • are more likely to engage in unhealthy weight-loss behaviours such as using diet pills, laxatives or vomiting after meals,

  • are more likely to have a parent who criticizes their weight, encourages them to diet or who is preoccupied with weight themselves.


While it is common for teens to feel self-conscious, always feeling bad about their bodies, worrying about weight or feeling guilty when they eat is not normal or healthy. This is called having a negative body image. Teens with a negative body image may lack confidence in other areas of their lives as well.


Parents need to be mindful of comments that they might be making to their teens about their bodies and you should not allow coaches, teachers, other family members to comment negatively about your teen’s body.


If you know that your teen is excessively worried about her/his weight, talk to her/him as it could be a phase or you may be picking up on a more serious problem such as an eating disorder.


Here are some suggestions:


  • Talk to your teen about why she or he wants to diet and how a diet can affect them.

  • Acknowledge what they feel by letting them know that you understand the pressures to be thin or to look a ‘certain way’.

  • Tell your teen that dieting doesn’t work and may lead to overeating.

  • Praise your teen for all her qualities—not just appearance.

  • Help your teen to plan healthy menus for breakfast lunch and dinner from all the food groups.

  • Encourage your teen to be get physical every day.  Make sure that they are participating in physical education at school and get them into a sport that they like and support their efforts.

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