Teen Tips for Weight Loss
These days, many teens live in single parent households or households where both parents work. Since this means that one or both parents may not be around during dinnertime, grocery shopping and meal preparation is often left to the teens. Many teenagers' eating choices are strongly influenced by peer pressure as well as independence from authority :) and sometimes, especially in the case of girls, to strive for ideals of being thin. Any way you slice it, health and nutrition are always in need of more attention-grabbing.
Whether or not you're satisfied with your weight, you need to remember that teens' bodies are still growing, so their calorie needs are different than adults. Especially boys, who have a larger proportion of muscle mass (to fat) than girls. And for both genders, their still-growing bones need extra calcium. That said, here are a few tips for teens who want to feel more empowered about their food choices while keeping a fit body in mind.
1. A teen's desire to be thin is more often the focus than being healthy. If you have concerns about your weight, discuss them first with your parents. Your family's support is an important part of the process. Begin with a physical/checkup. Remember, teens' bodies are still growing and have different calorie requirements than adults. Your doctor may recommend a registered dietitian to help you determine healthy and realistic goals tailored just for you and your body.
2. Start with breakfast - beginning each day with a healthy breakfast establishes a routine of healthful food choices and regular eating patterns throughout the day. It's also key to academic performance since calories help the brain to function. Remember to eat more at the times when you're most active and taper off as the day ends. Don't skip meals. Start with a hearty breakfast, a healthy lunch and a light dinner - and don't forget healthy snacks in between meals to boost metabolism, curb hunger and resist those urges to splurge.
3. Out with soft drinks; just because they're no-cal doesn't mean they're good for weight loss. The sugar and acid attacks the enamel on your teeth, leading to tooth decay. Too much soda also makes you feel full, which replaces the desire for other drinks such as milk, which you need for calcium. Soft drinks are also "empty calories," which means the only thing they provide is energy or calories - no nutrients or vitamins. In fact, too much soda can use up vitamins and minerals in your body if taken in large amounts.
Aside from the unbeatable price, a glass of water is an excellent thirst quencher or the perfect drink just before a meal or a snack. It temporarily fills your stomach, making you feel fuller and stop eating sooner. Drinking water is also important for optimal kidney function. When you're dieting and exercising, water helps your kidneys flush out the wastes that are naturally produced during weight loss.
Many soft drinks contain phosphates, which can decrease the amount of calcium available to your bones. And since soft drink consumption may reduce your intake of healthier beverages such as milk, this is especially important to teen girls, who don't always have enough calcium in their diet. Calcium intake is key to achieving optimal bone mass during this critical growth period.
4. Strong bones need adequate calcium, vitamin D and physical activity. You need 3 - 4 daily servings of high-calcium foods to get the daily requirement of 1,200 milligrams of calcium. One eight-ounce cup of milk or yogurt equals one serving. Fat-free milk and yogurt are great sources of protein and calcium; so don't eliminate them from your menu plans. Fat-free and low-fat cheese sticks are a great option for an easy snack or lunch addition. Remember that adequate calcium is required for bone development in growing teens.
5. Teenagers consume an average of two to three pounds of sugar a week! This much sugar can easily translate to a pound or two weight gain per week. Learn to read labels on all food products. Sugar is hidden in bread, drinks, yogurt, cereal and condiments. Sugar goes by many different names: fructose, corn syrup, dextrose. Remember that the ingredients on food labels are listed in descending amounts. If sugar in any form is listed in the first few ingredients, the product is high in sugar.
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