Healthy Diet for Teenagers: A Whole Week of Easy to Prepare Meal Ideas

Do you worry that your teen isn’t eating as healthy as they should? Do you lack ideas about healthy meals to prepare that your child will enjoy eating and benefit from in the same time?

Do you want to learn how to successfully disguise healthy foods and make them more appealing to your children?

As the Royal Women’s Hospital Foundation, the first and largest specialist hospital in Australia for women and newborns, explain on their website, a healthy diet is vital at any age, but it’s of utmost importance for young people.

Namely, as a teen’s body and brain are in a growing phase, they need to consume sufficient amounts of healthy and nutritious foods to meet the daily nutrient requirements.

But, not every teen follows a healthy diet and many parents struggle teaching their teens to eat healthy. Although teen years are beautiful, they can also be challenging, especially as a young person’s body changes and often times, not in the way they have expected.

Consequently, peer pressure and susceptibility to ‘what their friends think or say’ may cause young people to want to look in a certain way and this may further affect what they eat. This is also one of the major contributors to food disorders among the young population.

The problem which worries parents of teens is their children trying crash diets or eating junk foods regularly. When done frequently, this behaviour may worsen the child’s health and well-being.

This being said, young people need to eat a well-balanced diet for long-term benefits.

The challenge for parents is to become aware that even though their children’s independence grows and consequently the decision-making about what they will eat and what they won’t, we can still remain a positive influence and teach them what’s good and what’s not.

To achieve this, we need to begin from early on and lead by example. When you’re facing struggles with your teen disliking some foods or avoiding taking the lunch you’ve prepared to school, it’s important to discuss the underlying reasons and explain why good food and regular meals matter.

Also, it can be very effective to learn how to efficiently disguise some healthy foods like fruits and veggies that teens aren’t very keen on, yet they need.

We’ll also share a week’s worth menu of healthy meals and snacks your teen you can prepare for your teen and help him/her get the needed nutrients and vitamins.

What Should My Teen Eat?

In order for a teen to keep a healthy weight and perform well at school and in sports, he/she needs to follow a diet which is abundant in fruits, veggies, whole grains, milk products (no-fat or low-fat), eggs, beans, fish, lean meats, and nuts.

As children grow, they will need more calories and more of the pivotal nutrients such as iron, protein, and calcium. However, the amount of food your teen needs is almost always per their individual needs.

Generally speaking, here’s what your teen requires on a daily basis, according to John Muir Health, a leader in health care and a non-profit integrated system of doctors, hospitals, and other services:

The Top 6 Food Requirements for Teenagers

  • Veggies and fruits on a daily basis, 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of veggies
  • 1300 mg of calcium per day from good sources like milk or yogurt- three 1-cup servings
  • 5 ½ oz. of foods abundant in protein to help build their organs and muscles like poultry, fish, and lean meat, as well as other healthy protein sources like beans, tofu, peanut butter, nuts, and seeds
  • Foods rich in iron from cereals, breads, lean beef, spinach, and dried beans and peas
  • Good, unsaturated fats, including canola, sunflower, olive, corn, and soybean oils, fatty fish like tuna, trout, and salmon, and nuts and seeds- the amount of fat teens should consume should be between 25 to 35 percent of their daily calorie intake
  • Healthy drinks like water and milk- keep soda drinks and other fruit juices as treats or only for special occasions due to them being empty of calories, although very tasty

Is Disguising Veggies & Fruits an Effective Practice?

One thing’s for sure- children can be picky eaters and are known to avoid the ‘green stuff’ and to prefer sweet or starchy foods.

Why do our children dislike veggies so much? According to some experts, it’s because of their texture and their strong taste.

Some parents also bribe or reward their children so that they eat veggies.

When this doesn’t work, they may turn to sneaking veggies and fruits into all kinds of meals, from desserts to sauces.

Doing this helps parents increase the amount of nutrients their growing teens eat and minimizes anxiety and stress associated with kids’ refusing to eat specific meals, explains Amy, mother of two and the creator of children meals for the website Healthy Little Foodies, with a BSc degree in Food Science and Marketing and a postgraduate degree in teaching.

But, although this is a common practice among a lot of parents of youngsters, there are those who’re against it.

A lot of them consider this to be a bad idea as it can ‘demonise’ veggies and fruits in the child’s eyes and make them dislike them even more if they discover it hidden in their favourite hamburger or pasta dish.

Also, there’s the issue of whether we’re teaching our children good eating habits in the long-term-by hiding the good stuff, we’re showing them that these foods aren’t a vital part of healthy meals.

With this in mind, a good approach would be to still regularly expose your teen to veggies (starting from early in their childhood) and to still add some extra of them in their favourite meals to help them consume more nutrients.

5 Useful & Easy Tips for Food Disguising