What girls should eat

Teenage girls may become hyperaware of their bodies. Encourage your daughter to make these changes to fuel her growth at this crucial time:

Balance her energy levels.
Encourage her to stay active right through her teenage years. Although her energy needs are high due to all the changes in her body, adolescence can also be a time of weight gain if she becomes a coach potato. Replenish her energy levels after sport with moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates. These include starches rich in fibre, like whole-wheat and low-GI bread, legumes, fruit and vegetables.

Keep strong with calcium.
Because of speedy muscular, skeletal, and hormonal development, your teenage daughter’s calcium needs have risen tremendously. Interestingly, 45% of our bone mass is added during the teen years. So pile up on the milk, yoghurt and cheese, but choose the low-fat or fat-free alternatives if she’s concerned about her weight.

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 it up, baby.
Due to the onset of her periods, 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, such as liver, lean red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, beans, iron-enriched bread and breakfast cereals, dried fruit and raisins, in her diet.

The skinny on fat.
If she’s concerned about gaining weight, the answer isn't 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 eaten on a regular basis. The oils in nuts and avocadoes are also good for her. She should, however, try to cut back on junk food, pastries, deep-fried foods, chocolates, crisps and sweets.

Start the day the right way.
There’s no denying it: skipping breakfast has a definite effect on concentration and school-performance levels. A nice helping of fruit, high-fibre cereal and milk or yoghurt will kickstart her day and prevent mid-morning doughnut cravings.

A to prevent 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, pumpkin and sweet potato.

Get tips for teen boys

For more on healthy family nutrition, visit Health24.

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