There’s a lot of advice about how we should feed babies and toddlers, but often by the time our children are older, it becomes more about negotiating around their curious eating habits! Still, it’s good to be aware of the keystones of a healthy diet that will meet their nutritional needs as they grow and their physical habits change.
Nutrition for boys over-10 and teenagers
•The guideline daily amounts (GDAs) we see on packaging offer a useful estimate on the recommended levels of key nutrients for a balanced daily diet for an average adult woman. However, the needs of other groups of the population differ.
|Boys||11-14 years||15-18 years|
However, even these are only average values for these groups and do not take into account individual activity levels and timings of growth spurts.
GDA’s only provide values for some of the major nutritional components, however, particularly with teenagers it is often the micronutrients like vitamins and minerals and some of the essential fatty acids that are lacking in their diets. Sugar and salt are not necessarily so important at this age and it is often the type of fat rather than total fat that needs to be controlled. The key here is that you know your child, you know if they are over or underweight and you can help control this but you cannot see their vitamin or mineral status.
For useful information look on the British Nutrition Foundation website.
A teenager’s dietary needs
It’s plain to see that any teenager’s body is going through great physical change in just a few years. Growing bones, a change of physique including muscle development, and other natural shifts mean that good nutritional intake is important.
How you can help
A teenager’s diet is not easy to control – food is often likely to come second to more exciting things like a social life, so snacks on the go become the norm. Also, a desire to define independence for many teens manifests itself in less time spent having meals with the rest of the family.
There are positive incentives for maintaining a good balanced diet:
Try to remember to stock a varied, balanced cupboard and fridge of appealing, easy foods that your teenager might grab on their way up to their room or out of the house, and don’t forget to tempt your teen to the family table when you can, by cooking his favourite dishes…
Teenage boys do tend to enjoy their food and not get too hung up about calories so use this to your advantage. They’ll also try new things if they look tempting enough especially if their mates like them.