Nutrition for Adolescents and Teens

From adolescence into teen-hood, healthy eating is important. As your teen’s body begins to change, so do their nutritional and dietary needs. Many adolescents experience a growth spurt and an increase in appetite, meaning they need more frequent, convenient meals and snacks throughout the day.

While most of a teens’ diet and nutrition choices are typically influenced by peers and social media, it is important to discuss the following recommendations with your teen to ensure that they are eating healthily while navigating school schedules and activities:

Healthy Eating Tips for Teens

  • Model healthy eating behaviors at home. Eating together as a family has been shown to support family bonds, provide more nutritious meals and to decrease the risks for substance use and disordered eating behaviors.
  • Try to involve your teen in the cooking process to build their confidence in the kitchen and teach them how to build balanced meals!
  • Have several nutritious snack foods readily available. Oftentimes, teenagers will eat whatever is convenient. Allow your teens the option to choose a snack at home and take it on-the-go.
  • Remember that all foods can fit in a balanced diet and no foods need to be considered off-limits unless recommended by a medical professional.
  • Try to increase fiber in your teen’s diet while decreasing sources of added sodium.
    • Good sources of fiber include whole wheat or whole grain bread products, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, brown rice and fresh produce. Added sodium is found in many packaged and processed foods, so home-cooked meals are often the most nutritious.
  • Encourage water for hydration for kids and teens
    • Fruit juices and sodas can be a hidden source of added sugar to the diet. Water helps maintain proper cell function, and supports optimal physical activity or sports performance.
    • Many teens like to drink coffee, tea, soda or energy drinks. These beverages can have large amounts of caffeine that may interfere with regular sleep or concentration, and can even cause dependence. Try to limit your teen to only one caffeinated drink per day, and provide decaffeinated options when possible.