Grow up, and keep your diet in check- The New Indian Express


Express News Service

CHENNAI: Adolescence (13 to 18 years) is a period of significant growth and physical development that includes changes in body composition, metabolic and hormonal fluctuations, maturation of organ systems, and establishment of nutrient deposits, which may affect future health.

In terms of nutrition, it is also an important time to establish one’s lifelong relationship with food, which is particularly important in the connection between diet, exercise, and body image. The challenges of time management (e.g., school, training, work and social commitments) and periods of fluctuating emotions are also features of this period. In addition, an adolescent’s peers become increasingly powerful moderators of all behaviours, including eating.

With changing diets and physical activity levels, overweight and obesity are also emerging problems, particularly among urban residents and wealthier households. The consumption of processed foods high in fat and sugar is rising, and adolescents and adults are becoming increasingly sedentary. Overweight and obesity in adolescent girls is associated with obesity in adult women, which increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and infant obesity.

Nutritional strategies
Grains: Foods that are made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain are grain products. Examples include whole wheat, brown rice, and oatmeal.
Vegetables: Vary your vegetables. Choose a variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange vegetables, legumes (peas and beans), and starchy vegetables.
Fruits: Any fruit. They may be fresh, whole, cut up.
Dairy: Milk products and foods made from milk. Focus on fat-free or low-fat products, and those that are high in calcium.
Protein: Go lean on protein. Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry. Vary your protein routine — choose more fish, nuts, seeds, peas, and beans.

Parents and children
Parental authority tends to diminish across adolescence. Eating with family ensures that family time should be prioritised and is a part of the daily routine. Parental intake of fruits and vegetables is positively associated with adolescents’ consumption of these food groups. They serve as role models of the types of foods that are preferred, and when and where they are eaten. They can exacerbate poor nutritional habits if they employ food as a reward for good behaviour or withhold food as a punishment for bad behaviour.
Micronutrient supplementation among adolescents (predominantly females) can significantly decrease anaemia prevalence.

Healthy habits

  • Eat three balanced meals a day, with healthy snacks.
  • Increase fibre in the diet and decrease the use of salt.
  • Drink water. Try to avoid drinks that are high in sugar. Fruit juice can have a lot of calories, so limit your adolescent’s intake. Whole fruit is always a better choice.
  • When cooking for your adolescent, try to bake or broil instead of fry.
  • Eat more chicken and fish. Limit red meat intake, and choose lean cuts when possible. Supplements for iron, calcium, and Vitamin D. Fluid, dietary supplements, ergogenic aids and electrolytes are important. The dosage and the frequency of administration should be based on the advice of a nutritionist or dietitian.

Make sure your adolescent watches (and decreases, if necessary) the sugar intake.

  • Snack on fruits or vegetables.
  • Decrease the use of butter and heavy gravies.
  • Arrange for teens to find out about nutrition for themselves by providing teen-oriented magazines or books with food articles and by encouraging them and supporting their interest in health, cooking, or nutrition.
  • Take their suggestions, when possible, regarding foods to prepare at home.
  • Experiment with foods outside your own culture.
  • Have nutritious snack foods readily available. If there are foods that you do not want your teens to eat, avoid bringing them into the home.

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