Like most things about teenage, appetite goes into a rebellious mode during those roller coaster years. You might have already noticed your teen downing the dinner meant for the whole family or emptying the refrigerator first thing after getting home from school. At the other extreme would be the suddenly beauty conscious teenager who is bend on going hungry to fit into impossible size standards. So how do we find a middle ground and ensure that our teens are having the right kind of food in the right amounts?
Balance the carbs, proteins, and fats
Teenagers should eat a combination of foods rich in carbohydrates and proteins. An ideal breakfast would be something like chappathi and dal/channa, bread and eggs, idli, and sambar etc. In addition to this, the food should have an adequate proportion of fat. Some good sources of fat are peanut butter, milk, and other dairy products. Carbs, proteins, and fats in the right amounts will ensure healthy physical development during this phase of growth spurt.
Add fibre, iron, and calcium
Whole grains are rich in fibre which will satiate adolescent hunger for longer periods. Almost all teenagers eat less than recommended amounts of vegetables, which are also good sources of iron and fibre. More importantly, the iron content in vegetables is not easily absorbed by the body. So while it's important to include salads and raw vegetables in your teenager's diet, find additional sources of iron like beans, poultry, seafood, green leafy vegetables, peas etc. Two glasses of milk and nuts will make a good snack and take care of the calcium requirements. Cereals, fortified breads, poultry, and milk are rich in B complex vitamins which boost the immune system and help in better absorbing nutrients.
Have a diet plan
Adolescence is a good time to inculcate right eating habits in your kids. The ideal diet should give them the right nutrients without piling up flab on your teenager. If your adolescent daughter is particular about avoid fattening foods, tell her it's a good idea, but not all fats are bad. Include healthy fats in her diet. Boys have a longer growth phase than girls and it is natural for adolescent boys to be constantly hungry. You might also find them preoccupied with the idea of building muscles and hence going on an overdose of proteins. To even out these imbalances, it is a good idea to have a diet plan for your teenagers.
There's no one size fits all diet plan for all adolescents. It depends more on your child's age, gender, weight, physical activity levels, and health condition. If the time for breakfast is compromised, giving them a glass of milk and boiled banana will take care of the protein and mineral requirements while keeping them full. If you are sending them a light lunch to school, make sure they eat their share of rice and vegetables after coming home. A combination of cereals, vegetables, and lean meat will make a good dinner. If they are snacking on vegetable/egg/chicken sandwiches, boiled corn, bread, and peanut butter or anything heavy in the evening, it's better to keep the dinner light. Avoid oily food so that the acne-prone skin of your teens remains clear.