2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
During adolescence, the energy needs of your older children increase considerably. Here are some great tips to satiate their ferocious appetite.
Adolescence is a time of significant physical, psychological and social change. In girls, the growth spurt usually takes place between the ages of 10 and 15, peaking at age 12. In boys, this period occurs later and lasts longer: it ranges from 12 to 19 years old, with a peak around the age of 14.
A crucial step
After the first year of life, adolescence is the most important period of growth in a person's entire life. To grow and develop well, the adolescent needs a greater amount of energy. This is why parents of a teenager sometimes feel like they are feeding two people instead of one. As energy needs increase, it is not surprising that protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin and mineral needs also increase. In addition, the transition from childhood to adolescence is marked by hormonal changes that sometimes influence the nutrient needs of girls and boys differently.
What's going on with the girls?
For girls, adolescence is the period of life during which energy needs (calories) are the greatest, with the exception of pregnancy and breastfeeding. The adolescent must eat enough to start and maintain her period. To do this, the teenage girl's body must have a fat reserve of at least 17%. Body fat plays an important role in the production of female sex hormones (estrogen). The composition of the body of adolescent girls therefore naturally changes and it accumulates fat in the hips, buttocks, arms and chest.
With the onset of menstruation, iron needs increase considerably in young girls. Iron lost in the blood of menstruation must be regained in the food consumed.
To grow, the adolescent body also needs protein, the main building blocks of muscles, tissues and vital organs, and zinc, a mineral essential for protein production. Bones also grow: more than 40% of adult skeletal mass is formed during this period. Calcium and vitamin D then play an important role in helping bones grow and strengthen.
What about boys?
In boys, energy needs are even greater, as their muscle mass increases. This increase in muscle mass requires greater blood volume and a higher number of red blood cells, so aincreased consumption of protein and iron. As with young girls, zinc and calcium requirements also increase during this period.
During adolescence, nutritional requirements therefore increase considerably, not only for protein, iron, zinc and calcium, but also for almost all minerals and vitamins. Teenagers can therefore draw the nutrients they need from their diet by increasing the size of the portions they consume, whether it is meat (or its substitutes), cereal products (bread, pasta, rice, couscous), vegetables and fruits or dairy products (or their substitutes).
To counter junk food
Teen eating habits are often chaotic: fast food, skipping meals, snacking… So how can parents help teens balance their meals? By focusing on tasty, nutritious foods that are easy to take.
- At home, compete with vending machines, fast food and convenience stores by providing your teen with mouth-watering lunches they love that are easy to handle and eat, like rolled pita bread with hummus and cheese, served with fruit juice. For the lunch bag, forget the dishes to be heated and the use of utensils.
- If he doesn't have time to sit down to a classic breakfast, offer him alternatives that are quick to prepare and easy to carry: cerealshe althy in a small container, homemade muffin, yogurt in a tube, exotic fruit juice, smoothie, eggnog, etc. If your teen doesn't eat breakfast, it's a safe bet that his nutritional needs, particularly calcium and iron, won't be met during the day.
- Offer convenient, nutritious snacks that are easy to take and eat: a muffin, cheese strings, fruit, mixed nuts, a peanut butter sandwich, a mini pizza, etc.
- Stay zen. Be flexible with your teen's disordered eating behaviors. Too much control over your eating habits can have the opposite effect.
Take care of their body image
Be vigilant. Dissatisfaction related to body image is an increasingly common problem among young people. In fact, nearly two out of three teenage girls are dissatisfied with their weight. Regardless of their weight or knowledge of nutrition, fear of obesity can lead them to unjustified food restrictions, which could result in eating disorders. As for boys, 34% of high school teenagers in Quebec are dissatisfied with their body image and say they want to change their appearance, according to a 2008 study by the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada. A statistic that proves that this dissatisfaction is not a phenomenon specific to girls, boys being, moreover, lessmore likely than girls to talk about their problems.
If you have any concerns about your teen's behavior, do not hesitate to consult a nutritionist.
Simple and Nutritious Lunches
Does your teenager have dinner at home on weekdays? Here are some simple, quick, and nutritious meal suggestions he can make himself while you're away.
- Homemade mini pizzas. Prepared with pitas or English muffins, they far exceed, in taste and nutritional value, their commercial counterparts.
- The sandwich revisited. To make a change from the traditional grilled cheese, vary the types of bread (pita, bagel, baguette, whole grains, etc.) and the mixture of toppings (chicken, mackerel, egg salad, cream cheese with grated carrots and raisins, etc.). Serve with raw vegetables, fruit or vegetable juice and yogurt.
- The "all-in-one". Pasta salad, bocconcini cheese and grilled vegetables; couscous, chickpeas, tomatoes and peppers… The “all-in-one” meal allows your teenager to have only one dish to take away and eat. What could be simpler and more practical!
- The snack meal. For days when teenagers don't even have time to eat, bet on foods that can be eaten on the sly: baby carrots, vegetable juice box, bag of mixed nuts, cheese sticks, hard-boiled egg, yogurt to drink or in a tube, fruits, etc.
From the Practical guide Eating better, for pleasure and he alth, Protect yourself, 2nd edition 2012.
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