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Dealing with Teen Nutrition
​​​​​​​Dealing with Teen Nutrition​
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​​​​​Teenagers can be roaring pits of hunger, constantly requiring a second or third ​​helping of meat and potatoes.  They can also be pickier than birds, refusing to eat ​​the meals served to them, or making a statement by only eating organic or ​​vegetarian.  Food choices are an important opportunity for teens to express ​​themselves.  But during a time of massive body and brain growth, nutrition has ​​never been more critical.  ​
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​Check out the tips below to provide healthy choices in a teen diet.​
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​What to consider for your teen’s nutrition:​
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  • ​​​​​Remember that your teen is in a tremendous growth period.  The food he ​​​​​​​​​​eats today represents the building blocks of the body he will have for a ​​​​​​​​​​lifetime.  Make every eating choice count!​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​Don’t preach good vs. bad foods.  Remind your teen that most foods are ​​​​​​​​​​okay in moderation, and encourage him to make a healthier choice when he ​​​​​​​​​​has the opportunity, especially when eating out.  Don’t expect him to skip ​​​​​​​​​​the trips to fast food joints with his friends, but remind him how to make ​​​​​​​​​​the best food choices.​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​Eat a variety of foods to ensure a proper balance of nutrients.  Over the ​​​​​​​​​​course of a week, encourage your teen to include every food group.​​​​​​​​​
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​​​​​Why packing lunch is the best choice:​
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  • ​​​​​Your teen is in control of the situation.  In a variety of ways.  No standing in ​​​​​​​​​​long lunch lines, portion control, quality control.  If your kid loves organic/fat-​​​​​​​​​​free/vegetarian, pack from home.​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​Your teen can eat a healthy variety.   Many school lunch programs repeat ​​​​​​​​​​the same food choices over and over.  Pack for yourself, and you can eat ​​​​​​​​​something different every day.​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​You teen can prepare for the day.  Big sporting event or after school ​​​​​​​​​​activity?  Use your lunch to eat for extra energy and pack a snack for later.​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​It saves money!  Packing a lunch is the most cost-effective way to get good ​​​​​​​​​​nutrition.  ​​​​​​​​​
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​​​​​What about nutrition for sports performance?​
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  • ​​​​​All food groups are necessary for top body performance.  Don’t focus on ​​​​​​​​​​carbs or protein only—healthy balance is best.​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​Hydrate!  Water is essential for athletes.  Drink early and often, certainly ​​​​​​​​​​before you feel thirsty.  ​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​Eat complex carbohydrates and lean protein.  For example, there is a huge ​​​​​​​​​difference between white rice and brown rice, nutritionally speaking.  Get ​​​​​​​​​​your teen in the habit of eating the healthy carbs by stocking your pantry ​
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    ​​​​​with only the good stuff.​​​​​​​​​
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  • ​​​​​Stay away from supplements and caffeine!  Your body gets more effective ​​​​​​​​​​nutrition from whole, natural foods than it does from processed bars and ​​​​​​​​​​shakes.  Side effects from caffeine can inhibit sports performance, and ​
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    ​​​​​can even be considered a prohibited substance in some circumstances.​​​​​​​​​
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​​​​​As always, the Internet is a comprehensive source for information on this topic.  ​Check out www.mealsmatter.org for general nutrition information and www.​​kidshealth.org/teen  for some helpful hints on packing lunches and more details ​​on eating for sports.​
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