Adolescence is a time of growth spurts, puberty changes, and emotional and social development. Kids and teens need proper nutrition to support bones growing, hormonal changes, and brain and tissue maturation. However, they do not always eat the best foods and dieting to cut calories is not healthy.

So how does a teen maintain a healthy weight and not fall short on essential nutrients they need? The USDA recommends that families use MyPlate and kids eat a balanced nutrition consisting of 3 meals a day and 2 healthy snacks. What teens eat affects their attention, memory, overall health, and weight.

MyPlate is a Great Visual Tool! 🙂

The USDA’s MyPlate program was designed to make balanced eating easy to visualize and apply to everyday life. Teens can clearly see that half of their plate should be filled with colorful fruits and veggies, about ¼ with lean protein and the remaining part left for grains, half of them being whole.

But you might be wondering: Do I have to serve all the food groups at each meal? Do I really have to give my kids veggies for breakfast? If breakfast or lunch doesn’t include a veggie or fruit, give them at snack time or dinner. Use the plate as a guide for planning and serving a variety of healthy foods.

The goal is to think of the plate as an entire day’s worth of eating: So, throughout the day, try to make half of what your kids eat vegetables and fruits, and the other half grains and protein foods. An occasional treat is fine, but be careful to limit foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients.

You can teach your kids how to use MyPlate by focusing on these five simple messages: 1) Half of a healthy plate should always include fruits and vegetables, 2) Drink water instead of soda and sugary juices, 3) Make half of your grains whole, 4) Go lean with protein, and 5) Try more healthy snacks.

The pictures on the left below show an unhealthy plate. However, by using MyPlate an unbalanced plate can easily become a balanced and healthy plate. It is all a matter of adding more fruits and veggies, cutting back on grains, and eating less carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates in particular.

By changing the meals below from an unhealthy to a balanced plate, we reduced the total calories from 7,224 to only 2,399 calories. That is almost 5,000 less calories! Keep in mind that it is important to avoid fried foods and instead make grilling and cooking at home a daily habit. Also MyPlate is not just for kids, but for adults too. So get the whole family involved and start today making it a healthy plate!

Nutrition is 80% of Weight Loss

When it comes to losing weight nutrition is 80% of the work and exercise is 20%. The reason nutrition is more effective to lose weight than exercise is because it takes a ton of activity to burn 700 calories. Since 3,500 calories equals 1 pound, you will need to run 7 to 10 miles a day to lose 1 pound a week. The average person can’t keep that up for a month especially without increasing their caloric intake.

Instead it is much easier to create a 700 calorie deficit through nutrition than it is to burn 700 calories through exercise. Teens don’t need to hit an exact 80/20 ratio to lose weight but they should focus primarily on nutrition if they want to shed pounds. It also should be done in a safe and healthy way! Teens are growing and they need essential nutrients so it is important that they say NO to Fad Diets.

Schedule Your Free Class Today

At Kalina’s Fitness, our mission is to give teens (ages 8-18) the tools they need to transform their lives and build healthy habits that will last a lifetime. By combining nutritional counseling, group support, and exercise classes, our Lean Teen Program empowers kids and teens to achieve their fitness goals. We are driven by a strong belief that every child deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential.

It all starts with a one-on-one nutritional consultation to better understand your child’s eating habits. Your health coach will prepare a nutrition plan that gives your family the flexibility needed to make permanent lifestyle changes. Register today for a Free Day Pass so we can help your child to build healthy habits and get fit. We look forward to serving you with excellence. Thank you for visiting us!