Balance energy levels. It is important to stay active when she hits her teens. Although her energy needs are high at this age due to all the changes in her body, adolescence can also be a time of weight gain if she's not careful. Encourage her to take part in sport and replenish her energy levels by eating moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates. These include starches rich in fibre, like whole-wheat bread, fruit and vegetables.
Call for calcium. Because of speedy muscular, skeletal, and hormonal development, her calcium needs have risen tremendously. Interestingly enough, 45% of your bone mass is added during your teens. So pile up on the milk, yoghurt and cheese – but choose the low fat or fat free alternative.
Bring on the fruit and veggies. Eating too little of nature’s own medicine can lead to cancer and other diseases later in life. At least five portions of fruits and vegetables are recommended per day.
Iron facts. Once she starts her period, a large amount of iron is lost every month. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, which may impair her immune response and decrease her body’s resistance to infection. Anaemia is also associated with a lack of energy and concentration ability – not a good thing if you want her to keep up those good marks. Try to include iron-rich foods in her diet, like liver, beans, potatoes, oats, raisins and dried peaches.
And fat? If your daughter is concerned about gaining weight, the answer is not necessarily to cut out all the fat in her diet. Some fats are actually good for you. Fish like tuna, sardines and salmon contain beneficial fats and should be consumed on a regular basis. Encourage her to cut back on pastries, baked products and sweets.
Don’t skip breakfast. Stop that midmorning doughnut craving dead in its tracks by getting her to eat a light breakfast. Plus, there’s no denying it: skipping breakfast has a definite effect on concentration and school performance levels. A nice helping of fruit, cereal and milk or yoghurt will kick-start her day.
A for acne. Vitamin A has been proven to be effective in the treatment of acne. It reduces the production of sebum – the white fatty substance found in the body’s pores. Find all the vitamin A she needs in orange and red fruits and vegetables like carrots, melons and tomatoes. Large amounts of vitamin A can, however, be toxic; so don’t overdo it.
Tips for teenage boys
Less fast food! Fast foods tend to contain lower amounts of the right stuff: iron, calcium and vitamins A, B and C. These foods are usually sky-high in fats as well. If you all eat out, try to choose a place where there are healthier options like pasta or a whole-wheat sandwich.
Hold back on the proteins. While protein is absolutely necessary for normal growth and development, your son should be wary of overdoing it. Excessive intakes of protein can interfere with calcium metabolism, which can lead to osteoporosis later in life. Too much protein can also increase his fluid needs and this may put him at risk for dehydration while exercising.
Iron, man. Due to the build-up of muscle mass during his teens, the blood volume of his body expands. An increase in blood volume calls for an increase in dietary iron intake. It is possible to boost his diet with iron without including unnecessary amounts of protein. Try to include alternatives to meat like potatoes, dried fruit, dark green vegetables and beans.
Zinc it up. This mineral is crucial to your body’s normal development, especially your sexual maturation. There is also some evidence that zinc can help in the prevention of acne. Work this mineral into your diet by eating moderate amounts of fish and shellfish on a weekly basis.
Fluid, fluid, fluid. It is very important to maintain a fluid balance at all times. If you are active, even more so. Exercise produces heat, and fluid is important for maintaining a body temperature that maximises performance. A good sports drink contains all the right stuff to replace lost electrolytes. Drink at least a cup of fluid every 15-20 minutes during exercise and two cups afterwards.