keep your Teen Healthy
As a teenager, you go through many changes. Your body is on its way to becoming its adult size. You may notice that you can’t fit into your old shoes or that your jeans are now 3 inches too short. Along with these changes, you are probably becoming more independent and making more of your own choices. Some of the biggest choices you face are about your health.
As you get older, you’re able to start making your own decisions about a lot of things that matter most to you. You may choose your own clothes, music, and friends. You also may be ready to make decisions about your body and health.
Making healthy decisions about what you eat and drink, how active you are, and how much sleep you get is a great place to start. Here you’ll learn
Choose Healthy Foods and Drinks
Healthy eating involves taking control of how much and what types of food you eat, as well as the beverages you drink. Try to replace foods high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat protein foods, and fat-free or low-fat dairy foods.
Fruits and Vegetables
Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables . Dark green, red, and orange vegetables have high levels of the nutrients you need, like vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. Adding tomato and spinach—or any other available greens that you like—to your sandwich is an easy way to get more veggies in your meal.
Choose whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereal, instead of refined-grain cereals, white bread, and white rice.
Power up with low fat or lean meats like turkey or chicken, and other protein-rich foods , such as seafood, egg whites, beans, nuts, and tofu.
Build strong bones with fat-free or low-fat milk products. If you can’t digest lactose—the sugar in milk that can cause stomach pain or gas—choose lactose-free milk or soy milk with added calcium. Fat-free or low-fat yogurt is also a good source of dairy food.
Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals might seem like an easy way to lose weight, but it actually may lead to weight gain if you eat more later to make up for it. Even if you’re really busy with school and activities, it’s important to try not to skip meals. Follow these tips to keep your body charged up all day and to stay healthy:
- Eat breakfast every day.Breakfast helps your body get going. If you’re short on time in the morning, grab something to go, like an apple or banana.
- Pack your lunch on school days.Packing your lunch may help you control your food and beverage portions and increases the chances that you will eat it because you made it.
- Eat dinner with your family.When you eat home-cooked meals with your family, you are more likely to consume healthy foods. Having meals together also gives you a chance to reconnect with each other and share news about your day.
- Get involved in grocery shopping and meal planning at home.Going food shopping and planning and preparing meals with family members or friends can be fun. Not only can you choose a favorite grocery store, and healthy foods and recipes, you also have a chance to help others in your family eat healthy too.
You should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day . Most of the 60 minutes or more of activity a day should be either moderate or intense aerobic physical activity, and you should include intense physical activity at least 3 days a week. Examples of aerobic physical activity, or activity that makes you breathe harder and speeds up your heart rate, include jogging, biking, and dancing.
Routine activities, such as cleaning your room or taking out the trash, may not get your heart rate up the way biking or jogging does. But they are also good ways to keep active on a regular basis.
Here’s an example of how to fit 60 minutes of physical activity into your day:
10 minutes – to walk or bike to a friend’s house
30 minutes – of playing basketball
10 minutes – of chasing the dog around the yard
10 minutes – to walk back home
= 60 minutes of activity!
Get Enough Sleep
Sometimes it’s hard to get enough sleep, especially if you have a job, help take care of younger brothers or sisters, or are busy with other activities after school. Like healthy eating and getting enough physical activity, getting enough sleep is important for staying healthy.
You need enough sleep to do well in school, work and drive safely, and fight off infection. Not getting enough sleep may make you moody and irritable. While more research is needed, some studies have shown that not getting enough sleep may also contribute to weight gain.
If you’re between 13 and 18 years old, you should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
Take Your Time
Changing your habits can be hard. And developing new habits takes time. Use the tips below and the checklist under “Be a health champion” to stay motivated and meet your goals. You can do it!
- Make changes slowly.Don’t expect to change your eating, drinking, or activity habits overnight. Changing too much too fast may hurt your chances of success.
- Figure out what’s holding you back.Are there unhealthy snack foods at home that are too tempting? Are the foods and drinks you’re choosing at your school cafeteria too high in fat and sugar? How can you change these habits?