“You need to eat your breakfast,” “that’s enough,” “please lose the junk food and eat some real food.”
If you’re a typical teenager with parents who always nag you about what you eat, how you eat, when you eat or don’t eat, and the amount of junk food you consume, these comments will sound familiar to you. Give your parents a break, they are just doing their job. They want you to eat properly so you’ll develop, be healthy, and keep your moods balanced.
Your body needs certain nutrients to feel well as you go through each day. The most important meal is breakfast, even though it’s probably the most difficult for many teenagers. Breakfast is even more important if you aren’t eating lunch on a regular basis, and are waiting until after school or until dinner to eat.
Protein is a primary component of our muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes, and internal organs, especially the heart and brain. Protein is needed for growth, for healthy red blood cells, and much more. Protein foods include eggs, cheese, soy products (soymilk, tofu, miso, tempeh), fish, beans, nuts, seeds, chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. If you are interested in following more of a vegetarian diet, choose soy products, beans, and nuts to satisfy your protein needs.
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy and play an important role in the functioning of our nervous system, muscles, and internal organs. Carbohydrate foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. The foods you should eat in limited amounts are ones that contain sugar, such as packaged cookies, cakes, soda-these sugars are called simple carbohydrates; they have a negative effect on your blood sugar levels and your moods as well.
Fats are a form of energy reserve and insulation in your body, and can be burned to make energy when you don’t get enough from your diet. Fats transport nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, and K through your body and fatty tissue protects your vital organs from trauma and temperature change.
Simply put, there are “good” fats and “bad” fats. The “bad” fats are called saturated fats and are found in animal products, meats, and dairy foods; they should be eaten in limited amounts. These fats solidify at room temperature. Hydrogenated fats, sometimes called “transfatty acids” are also bad fats that are known to lead to heart disease and cancer. These hydrogenated fats are used in many packaged baked goods and margarines.
– Here are some ideas for healthy, quick and easy meals –
- shake-combine a cup of vanilla, chocolate, or plain soymilk (or use cow’s milk if you prefer) in a blender with ½ banana, 2 ice cubes and blend. Add 1 scoop of soy or whey protein powder-Spirutein is one brand of soy protein powder that comes in a variety of flavors. (Optional: add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed). If you start your day off by drinking this shake, you should notice an improvement in how you feel and function throughout the day.
- Whole grain toast or bagel with peanut butter-the peanut butter should give you the protein you need to sustain your energy throughout the morning. c. Eggs-fried, scrambled, poached, or hard-boiled with whole grain toast; 1 or 2 eggs will provide you with a great protein source to begin your day and the whole grain toast gives you the carbohydrates for energy.
- Oatmeal with chopped nuts and raisins, a sliced banana, or strawberries. For extra protein, add a scoop of peanut butter to the oatmeal.
- Calcium fortified orange juice-drink this before your breakfast or along with it to get the added calcium and vitamin C.
- Fresh fruit-it’s great to start your day with fresh fruit whenever possible-an orange, pear, strawberries, banana, watermelon, peaches, blueberries-combine your favorite fruit with a container of yogurt and add some granola for a delicious breakfast.Lunch
- Egg salad sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato
- Veggie burger with all of the toppings that you would add to a regular hamburger
- Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread or roll
- Salad bar with a colorful variety of vegetables and chick peas or red kidney beans
- Pasta with pesto sauce, tomato sauce, or with vegetables
- Stir fry vegetables with tofu, shrimp, or chicken
- Caesar salad with grilled shrimp or chicken
- Broiled salmon with vegetables
- Baked potato with vegetable topping or chili topping
Whatever physical activity appeals to you, make it part of your daily routine. It will lift your spirits and improve your moods. Combine the exercise with healthy, fresh foods and you’ll be surprised at how much better and more energetic you’ll feel.
And when you do start to age like your parents, your body will be thankful that you nurtured and cared for it so well.