I can only imagine how hard it is to be a young woman these days! They are surrounded by ridiculous images of "perfection" while trying to grow into their own skin and feel beautiful. My daughter is on the verge of her teenage years and I'm so glad she'll have my book when she has questions but doesn't want to come to me directly (The Diet For Teenagers Only). It's so important for teenage girls to feel happy about their bodies and to have high self-esteem.
Since it's also bikini season, it's the perfect time to share a few of my practical tips and facts:
- Teenage girls are in the biggest, most important growth spurt of their lives. This is the most critical time for them to learn to eat right and treat their bodies with the respect (and the nutrition!) they deserve.
- Young women are laying the groundwork for how healthy they'll be for the rest of their lives. Their bones grow in length and density mostly during these teenage years. By the time young women are 17, almost all (90 percent) of their bones have developed.
- Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is critical for developing bones. Sources of vitamin D are the sun, egg yolks, and fish oils. I suggest looking into supplements to reach their daily requirement.
- Increase the intake of B-vitamins by eating whole grains. These vitamins help keep the heart, muscles, and nervous system working correctly. Also, B5 is often used to treat PMS!
Top Nutrition Tips Especially for Teens
- Instead of asking yourself, "Am I fat?" ask yourself, "Am I fit?"-- as in, "Am I healthy and in shape?" That's what you should be striving for."
- Carbs (carbohydrates) aren't bad. You need them to make your brain work. Carbs are the exclusive fuel for your brain.
- How much you eat is as important as what you eat.
- Always eat breakfast! Eating breakfast jump-starts your metabolism for the day.
- Avoid soda! Diet soda, too! They can cause cellulite and bloating -- ugh!
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. They make you crave more sweets!
- Avoid processed foods (anything with lots of white flour and sugars and oils, like cookies, crackers, and baked goods).
- It's better to eat three average-size meals and snack throughout the day to keep your body running smoothly and to make sure you're getting the right nutrients.
- Exercise is extremely important to your diet and your health. Working out regularly will reduce body fat, increase your energy level, make your complexion glow, and release endorphins, which will give you a "natural high." It also makes your body more immune to germs and illnesses, makes your brain work better, and makes your clothes fit better.
- A food diary can really make a difference. In fact, statistics show that people who use a food diary and a meal plan lose more weight than people who don't.
- Feel a binge coming on? Gargle with mouthwash and wait 15 minutes. The urge to eat will most likely go away.
- Remember, your next meal is more important than your last one.
- Don't eat big meals at the end of the day, and try to stop eating at 8:00 p.m.
For more by Carrie Wiatt, M.S., click here.
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 Schroeder, Barbara, and Carrie Wiatt. The Diet for Teenagers Only. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. p. 211.