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Healthy Eating Tips for Teenagers

“I DON’T WANT TO GIVE UP JUNK FOOD!” SAYS TEEN

Many teenagers believe that in order to be a healthy eater, they need to cut out junk food altogether. Healthy eating is associated with dieting and many teenagers have an attitude of “Well, I am not on a diet why should I eat healthily?”

Junk food is more readily available; it is marketed more aggressively and is firmly embedded in the teen psyche. In many cases, junk food is far cheaper than healthier options.

What many teenagers don’t realise is that healthy eating is not an option. Yes, it is your choice, but in terms of your health, body and mental well-being it is not an option that you can choose at will. Healthy eating is a vital necessity.

It is not about getting rid of junk food altogether it is about making sure you have a balanced diet, and ensuring that junk food isn’t all that you eat or even a major constituent of your diet.

You control what you put in your mouth, but remember what you put in your mouth controls you. An unbalanced diet is not just unhealthy it is extremely dangerous.

Make the right choices the quality of your life depends upon it

WATER

Many people use the excuse that water isn’t “nearby” for not drinking enough water during the day. Yet, water is the second most important component of our lives next to air. Very little can occur in our bodies without water, and we need to replenish it as often as possible. Think of a washing machine you wouldn’t wash load after load with the same water and so it is with our bodies: we need to flush out old water and replenish with new every day. Most people need 8 glasses of water a day, but if the weather is hotter than normal, or if you do lots of exercise, then you should up your intake and drink more. Make water more accessible by carrying around a bottle than can be refilled throughout the day.

REFINED SUGARS

The recommended daily intake of refined sugars is, for the average person, about 10 teaspoons of sugar. That is roughly one can of fizzy drink. Many teenagers drink 2 to 3 (and sometimes more) cans/bottles of fizzy drink every day. To burn off the calories from just one can of soda, the average person would have to walk 3 miles for 45 minutes or cycle vigorously for 22 minutes. If these calories are not burned off, they are stored as fat in the body. Given that teens do not exercise enough, they run the risk of becoming seriously overweight.

And there are serious health risks associated with being overweight.

SUGAR SUGAR EVERYWHERE

Glucose carried in the blood stream supplies the brain with ninety percent of the energy it requires to function properly. As soon as we eat sugary snacks or drinks, our pancreas produces insulin, which pulls the glucose away from the brain to store it for later use. This makes us sluggish and it is harder for us to concentrate. Often students who eat high-sugar lunches, peak for a short while, but then lose energy very quickly and become tired. Instead of having a steady energy supply, students fluctuate between moments of high energy and moments of low energy.

The brain needs a steady supply of energy when studying so avoid sugary snacks and sweet drinks before or during learning periods. The types of sugars found in sweet snacks are not pure glucose, and can actually interfere with the brain’s glucose absorbing capacity. Choose to eat foods that are high in natural glucose like fruit.

Besides the dental risks, the main problem with eating too many sugary snacks is that it stops us from eating the foods that our bodies and brains really need.

JUNK FOOD

“Junk food” is only junk food when that is all you are eating or mainly what you are eating. The chief problem with eating junk food is that it is replacing the healthy food that you can and should be eating. So, when you feel hungry, instead of giving your body the best fuel it can have, you choose instead to eat something which does not have a high enough nutritional value.

There is nothing wrong with having a packet of greasy chips now and then as long as you are also eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and getting plenty of exercise. Junk food should be a very small part of your overall diet not the main ingredient.

HEALTHY MENU

Many teens struggle to keep a balanced diet because the lure and temptations of fast food are everywhere. There are, unfortunately, many teens who don’t even know what a balanced diet is. And even when parents provide healthy meals, many teens, because they have snacked on junk food, refuse important foods, like fruit and vegetables. Imagine you are a parent and you have to prepare all the meals for your child for a day. What would be the healthiest menu you can offer?

The next time you say, “Oh I don’t like this vegetable, or that fruitI don’t like the taste of healthy food,” stop and think for a second. You might not like the taste of certain thingsbut that’s just your tongue the rest of your body craves and loves those foods which will be most nourishing.

An unbalanced diet can make it hard for you to concentrate for long periods of time. It can make you moody and sluggish. It also can make you irritable and decrease your motivation. It increases your chances of falling ill often. It can make your skin greasy and more prone to pimples. It makes your hair look dull and your complexion look sickly. It makes it harder for you to study and remember things. It can either make you malnourished and/or obese.

An unbalanced diet means your brain cannot develop fully, and neither can anything else in your body. Oh, and an unbalanced diet will affect your sexual performance later in life.

When you think about your future, remember that your nutritional choices will directly dictate the quality of life that you will have.

And the time that you will have to live it.

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