How to instil good eating habits in adolescents
“I’m very hungry!” This expression could easily be repeated by teens several times a day. If you are a father or mother and your children are going through adolescence, you will be wondering what to do to keep the fridge full and satisfy the insatiable appetite of young people in the stage of puberty. Here I talk about the subject and the importance of inculcating good eating habits in this stage of life.
When you have to use an expression to exaggerate the desire to eat, instead of using “more appetite than a lion,” you would have to say “more hungry than a teenager.” If you have teenage children, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
One day, your son or daughter stops being a boy or girl and embarks on the ups and downs of puberty . Suddenly, that little person that you had to beg to eat, does not want to do anything but eat. Where do teenagers have so much food?
The reality is that between 10 and 12 years old the appetite opens in response to an important period of growth. It is at the beginning of puberty that the body needs more calories than ever before. That’s why teens seem to be hungry all the time, especially boys.
Calories are the measure that expresses the energy that food provides. On average, a teenage male needs to consume 2,800 calories a day. Girls, on the other hand, need an average of 2,200 calories a day.
It is believed that those attacks of hunger stop while the boys stop growing. However, nutrition experts say that this is not always the case since young people who are tall and participate in physical activities can remain hungry until the end of adolescence. Attention is also drawn to the fact that during the middle and the end of adolescence, girls consume 25% less calories than boys and, therefore, may have nutritional deficiencies.
In addition, it must be borne in mind that it is at this stage that eating disorders frequently occur (anorexia, bulimia) that are the product of the desire to look extremely thin. Therefore, it is important that as parents you explain why it is important to bring a new nutrition.
Beyond the calories, which can often be obtained from food that is not nutritious (sodas, fast food, sweets), the important thing is to eat a balanced diet that includes healthy foods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adolescents in the United States do not follow the recommendations to eat between 2 and 7 cups of fruits and vegetables a day (depending on their age). this can change); nor do they eat the recommended amount of whole grains (2 to 3 ounces a day) and exceed the maximum recommended sodium (salt) intake (between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day).
In addition, adolescents in the United States get 40% of their daily calories from food that does not provide nutrition (what are known as empty calories) such as sodas or soft drinks, sugary drinks, desserts, and in general, fast food . These data are critical because they undoubtedly add to the risk factors of the obesity epidemic among adolescents
It is important that you remind your adolescent children to eat a healthy diet:
- Contributes to optimal growth and development
- Prevents the development of problems such as high cholesterol, hypertension and helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular problems.
- Reduces the risk of obesity, osteoporosis , iron deficiency and dental caries .
Remember that satisfying hunger is not enough, it must be done intelligently so that young people grow up healthy.
If you have doubts about the diet that your adolescent son should follow, consult your doctor.