During this time of increasing freedom, the best choices may not be made. We hope by making healthy choices for the whole family the teenager will have 80/20 philosophy. 80% good choices and 20% not-so-great choices. Again looking at the cardinal rules, the hope is to have a parental shift from leadership to mentorship. 

Nutritional Needs

During your child's teenage years, there will a period of rapid growth in which it seems like your teenager is eating you out of house and home. Make sure that your fridge and pantry are stocked, because teenage boys need around 2,800 calories per day, and teen girls need around 2,200. The main nutrients your teenager will need are carbs, proteins, and healthy fats, as they will serve as the body's primary energy sources. The main things that teenagers tend to fall short on are iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin D. If your teenager is eating a well-rounded diet, he should be getting adequate vitamins and minerals.

It is also important that your teenager get 8-10 glasses of water per day. If you struggle with getting your teen to drink water, giving them fruit-infused water can encourage them to sip on it throughout the day. By being properly hydrated, their bodies will function at their best.

Physical Activity

As with a school age child, a teenager needs 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per day. This should include muscle strengthening activites three times per week. Some exercise options include brisk walking, bike riding, jogging, or even dancing. Lifting weights or body weight exercises will easily take care of the muscle strengthening activity needed. Regular exercise will help your teenager to have stronger muscles and bones, be more flexible, and maintain a healthy weight.

Help Your Child Make Healthy Choices

The best thing you can do is to help your teenager make healthy choices. Make an abundance of healthy food available in the house, so they have plenty to choose from. Try to limit the unhealthy foods available, such as candy, cokes, sweets, chips, processed foods, frozen french fries, etc. 

Make sure that your teenager has a nutritious breakfast every morning. Even if they just take it with them, you can start their day off right with something healthy. Some options are an apple or banana, peanut butter toast, or low-fat granola bar. You can also pack their lunch for them, to ensure that they are able to eat something healthy while at school.

Schedule meals where you all sit around the dinner table together to eat as a family. By cooking a healthy meal yourself and eating all together, you are ensuring that you are all eating the right kinds of foods. In addition, you are getting in some good quality time with your family.

This page was authored by Dr. Melissa Adams