March 16, 2007
iTo eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.i n La Rochefoucauld
Teen Ink asked Jennifer Conca, a dietitian, to share her thoughts on eating intelligently. Hereis what she had to say:
Teens normally have a growth spurt during their adolescent years (12 to 18 years old), so a healthy diet for teens is one that provides enough nutrients for this growth. A healthy diet also keeps you from developing health problems such as anemia (decreased oxygen going to body tissues), eating disorders or obesity, as well as other health problems later in life such heart disease or diabetes.
What to Eat
Your diet should include different kinds of foods from all the food groups. Meals should be well balanced with enough protein (such as meat, beans and nuts), carbohydrates (bread, pasta and cereal), fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products. The kinds of foods teens eat should be high in vitamins and minerals, and low in fat and sugar. Here are some guidelines for planning your daily diet:
Breads, cereal, rice, and pasta: Eat six to eleven servings each day.
i One slice of whole-grain bread, small roll or six-inch tortilla
i One-half of a cup of cooked cereal, rice or whole-wheat pasta
i One-half of a hamburger bun, English muffin or bagel
i Three to four small crackers
i One ounce or about one-half of a cup of ready-to-eat cereal
Vegetables: Eat three to five servings each day.
i One-half of a cup of cooked or chopped, raw vegetables
i Three-fourths of a cup of vegetable juice
i One cup of leafy green raw vegetable such as lettuce or spinach
Fruits: Eat two to four servings each day.
i One whole fruit such as a medium banana, apple or orange
i One melon wedge, one-fourth of a melon or one-half of a grapefruit
i Three-fourths of a cup of fruit juice
i One-half of a cup of berries or one-fourth of a cup of dried fruit
i One-half of a cup of chopped or canned fruit
Milk, yogurt, and cheese: Eat three servings each day.
i One cup of low-fat milk
i Eight ounces of low-fat yogurt
i One and one-half ounces of natural cheese
i Two ounces of processed cheese
Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts: Eat two to three servings each day.
i Two to three ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish
i Two teaspoons of peanut butter
i Two eggs
i One cup of cooked dry beans
What to Avoid Eating
Try not to eat a lot of fast food and convenience foods such as hamburgers, French fries, pizza, potato chips, candy and soda. These high-fat, high-sugar foods wind up replacing healthy foods when you eat or drink them too often. For example, you may drink a lot of soda and not drink any milk and, therefore, not get enough calcium. High-fat, high-sugar foods are also, of course, high in calories. And too many calories may cause you to become overweight. Plan and pack healthy foods for when youire eating away from home.
Along with your diet, physical activity is very important for your health. Exercising can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight and significantly lower your risk of certain health problems during your adolescent years and later in life. You should get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five or more days a week. This combined with a well-balanced diet will help ensure that youill be healthy enough to live a productive life and take on exciting challenges with energy and success.
Jennifer Conca is a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist from Providence, RI. She works at The Miriam Hospital as a clinical dietitian with a special focus in oncology nutrition.
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