Teenagers are smart enough to appreciate the benefits of a healthy diet, but they are also easily tempted by fast and tasty junk food. The trick to creating a weekly meal plan for teens is to include plenty of nutritious substitutes for sugary foods laden with empty calories. Pick a few basic menus for each meal and alternate days to take some of the fuss out of planning. Teens will not object to eating their favorite meals two or three times a week.
It's tough to monitor a teen's diet, particularly when he eats away from home. Include your teen in the planning process, write down the plan and shop for all the ingredients for the week ahead of time. Focus your plan around the calorie needs of your teen. Caloric intake for teens varies, depending on age, gender and fitness level and whether weight loss is a goal. Keep in mind that teenagers need at least five servings of vegetables and fruit per day, and more is even better. Since snacking is an important element in a teen's diet, offer fruits and vegetables as snack sources. Creamy dips go a long way to making raw vegetables into a welcome snack.
Teens who eat breakfast do well in school and tend to eat healthier for the rest of the day, according to the Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on children's health. Pick easy and fast items for breakfast so you don't have to give a lot of thought to what to eat on busy mornings. Teens need plenty of whole grains every day, so whole-grain toast with peanut butter is a good choice. Add a glass of skim milk and a piece of fruit for calcium and vitamins. Yogurt mixed with granola and berries is quick, as is cottage cheese with pineapple. On weekend mornings, try a scrambled-egg sandwich on a whole-wheat roll with ranch dressing and bacon for your active, growing teen with a hearty appetite, or mix seasoned dressing mix into scrambled eggs and serve with breakfast sausage.
Sending a homemade lunch to school with your teen is the best strategy for good nutrition. Make sandwiches with lean, sliced turkey or tuna. Add loads of vegetables and use whole-grain bread. For teens who aren't interested in sandwiches, make chicken salad with mandarin oranges and almonds and creamy dressing or send a piece of cold, baked chicken. Kale chips are a satisfying, vitamin-rich and low-starch alternative to potato chips. Stick to your meal plan and assemble lunches the night before.
Load at least half of your teen's dinner plate with vegetables and fruits. Consider mixing them with whole grains for visual and taste appeal. Fried rice with spinach and peas, and couscous with dried fruits are good choices. Keep portion sizes for protein under control. Teens need 5-1/2 oz. of protein per day, according to the Weight-Control Information Network, and a 3 oz. portion of meat is about the size of a bar of soap.
Like This Article? Let Us Know!
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images