Between school, sports and maybe a part-time job, the teenage years may be some of the best — and busiest — times in a girl's life.
Those same years may be some of the busiest inside her body, too. While she grows, her body is working hard to add muscle, increase the number of red blood cells and finish building the bones she'll use for the rest of her life.
Accordingly, diets for teenage girls need to be packed full of nutrition to help their bodies achieve maximum health now and later. Here's what to know if you're looking to provide your growing daughter with the nutrition she requires.
Key Nutrients in Diets for Teenage Girls
As teenagers develop, three critical parts of their bodies are in flux: their bones, their blood, and their muscles. To ensure these areas grow properly, girls need the right nutrients.
Snacks to Boost Teen Nutrition
Teens rely on snacks for about 25 percent of their daily calories. People often think of junk foods as snacks, but a snack can be anything eaten outside of a scheduled meal. For many teens, snacks are excellent opportunities to add a nutritional boost to their diets.
Consider these healthy snack ideas to improve your teen's nutrition:
1. Greek yogurt smoothie
Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium, nutrients key to bone and muscle support. To make a smoothie, combine a 6- to 8-ounce carton of Greek yogurt with a banana in a blender (a frozen banana works well, but freezing is optional) or any other fresh fruit you desire. Add enough milk to thin out the smoothie and 1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring. Blend until smooth and enjoy a nutritious treat!
2. Trail mix
This is an excellent choice for girls who can't seem to get enough calories, as trail mix can be high in iron and protein, thanks to the nuts and dried fruit. To make your own, use your teen's favorite dried fruit (raisins, pineapple, mango, cranberries, etc.) and add an equal number of peanuts or tree nuts. You can also add other crunchy options like popcorn or pumpkin seeds, or even a small number of chocolate chips if desired.
3. Peanut butter balls
These peanut butter balls provide a protein boost that includes:
Combine all ingredients and roll into 1- to 2-inch balls. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
4. No-bake granola bars
These no-bake granola bars, are also high in muscle-building protein:
Combine all the ingredients, then press the mixture into a 9 x 11 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Place it in the freezer for one hour, then cut the mixture into bars. Store them in the refrigerator.
Short on time? These healthy snacks can be prepared quickly and provide a lot of nutrition:
Healthy snacking doesn't mean bland or boring snacking. It means eating to make sure every bite is as full of nutrients as it is full of flavor. A teen's diet doesn't have to be perfect, but your teen's food choices today will affect her health for a lifetime, and there's no better time to help your daughter develop a lifelong habit of healthy snacking than during her teenage years.
Understanding Your Child's Growth Spurt
During childhood years (ages 6 to 12), your child undergoes steady growth and development with periods of more rapid growth known as “growth spurts.” If they're often hungry in between meals or their pants are suddenly too short, they may be experiencing a growth spurt.
Preparing for Your Adolescent's Teenage Growth Spurt
Adolescence, or the teenage years, is usually a time of major growth and development. Your child may experience a drastic change in height, accompanied by puberty milestones. These adjustments can come on quick and sometimes be surprising — for both your child and you — but the best way to mitigate any confusion is to educate your child on the changes to come.