Artículos de 14 Febrero 2008

Teen health and fitness

Jueves, 14 Febrero 2008

Until the teenage years, it’s largely possible to control what and when children eat, how much exercise they get and when they go to bed. While all this may change once a child reaches the teenage years, there are ways you can help him eat healthily and stay fit.

    Food for growing

Teenagers grow quickly. They need an increase in food to supply the energy they need for growth. Teenagers need more calories than adults, but the sort of food that’s best is just the same as for anyone else. We should all:

  • Eat plenty of: bread, other cereals, potatoes, fruit and vegetables. These foods supply energy, fibre, and important vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat moderate amounts of: milk and dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses such as beans. These foods supply protein for growth as well as vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat small amounts of: fat including butter, margarine, oils and cream, and fried foods including crisps and chips.
  • Eat small amounts of sugary foods including cakes, biscuits, sweets, soft drinks, and ice cream. These foods supply energy but can contribute to tooth decay.

As a general rule of thumb, about half of all calories should come from complex carbohydrates such as cereals, pasta, rice and bread, and from root and leaf vegetables and fruit. About a third of calories should come from foods like chicken, meat, oily fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and yoghurt. The rest will be made up of other foods like fats.

However, even if you offer good food at regular intervals, a teenager may not always eat it. Erratic meal patterns, skipping breakfast and fasting to lose weight are not uncommon, as is eating too much of the wrong foods.

    Big eaters

Some teenagers put on weight slowly but surely in early adolescence. If weight-gain starts to become a problem, it’s easier to try to change the eating patterns that caused the gain sooner rather than later. Try to ensure that the teenager is eating sensibly from all food groups. Small changes in diet such as cutting out snacks and high-fat foods like crisps can make a difference, as can smaller meal portions. Plenty of regular exercise will also help.

    Small eaters

Many teenagers worry about their weight. Social pressure and media images combine to put fat near the top of most teenagers’ hate lists. However, while most teenagers worry, very few go on to develop eating disorders. One that worries parents is anorexia, which is more common amongst teenage girls than boys. Anorexia occurs when a girl sees herself as fat and continues to diet even when she is already very thin.  Try to make sure their diet is healthy and they take a fair amount of exercise. Exercise and fitness are part of looking good, feeling good and being healthy. 

    Sleep

Healthy sleeping is an essential part of looking after the body. Teenagers need more sleep than children because of the changes they are experiencing both physically and mentally.  It doesn’t indicate that they are lazy or will grow up to be lazy.

British Nutrition Foundation: www.nutrition.org.uk