Welcome to the world of the teen where everything is changing and understanding puberty and all its demands on their growing bodies can be very challenging. Often you will notice the growth spurt, a period in which there is rapid growth. During this time there are fluctuations in hormone levels that cause many physical changes, it is a relevant time to be reflecting on their growing body’s nutritional needs. Hormonal changes may affect eating habits and food choices which may be puzzling to mum, but to the teen considered reasonable eating habits. Your growing teen’s nutrition is vital for supporting the physical growth of the body and for preventing future health problems.
Proper nutrition is also essential to support teens active lifestyle, and it also forms the basis of their adult eating habits. If they learn to eat junk in their adolescent years then chances are, they will continue to do so into adulthood. During this time their bodies have an increased need for calories and nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron, folate, and zinc. For girls, iron and calcium intake are particularly important because of menstruation cycles and bone health. If they do not get the proper nutrition, this will cause mood swings galore during their menstrual cycles and or the days leading up to it. Therefore they should include increased amounts of greens and leafy veggies, lots of root veggies, i.e., beets, carrots, clean protein, i.e., fresh salmon – omegas, and healthy fats. These food groups are recommended to be consumed at every meal. Excess processed foods and sugars should be avoided; studies prove that this leads to obesity, dangerous hormonal health, and bad mood swings.
Proper nutrition during the teenage years is also necessary for brain health. Teens should eat clean real healthy foods because many hormones and neurotransmitters are made of fat. Hormones and neurotransmitters can impact mental well being. Therefore healthy fats are extremely important in the diet of a teenager during this time when hormones are changing dramatically. Additionally, our cells are lined with fat -we need good fats to have healthy cells. During this time cells need to develop a healthy foundation of clean fats such as coconut oil, real butter, nuts/seeds, avocado, olive oil, fish oils, etc.
Clean and healthy protein is equally important as they are the building blocks of our bodies. Proteins assist in the formation of organs, nerves, muscles, and flesh. Complete animal proteins are responsible for building enzymes, antibodies, hemoglobin, and hormones. They also make up amino acids which are responsible for creating neurotransmitters (such as norepinephrine, serotonin). Amino acids are components of many hormones, which in turn help to regulate healthy moods. Therefore, daily consumption of healthy clean proteins will help to ensure optimal physical function and health.
Support your teens by providing them real nourishing foods daily to help build healthy hormones and good moods thus making their transitions into womanhood a pleasant one for them and mum too!
Terri is an adventurous Raw Vegan Chef, Holistic Nutritionist & Health Coach and the owner of Chic Gourmet, and enjoys helping mums conquer their wellness goals and live a life in balance.