When creating a healthy meal plan for teens, consider the number of calories a teenager needs daily, which is based on gender and activity level. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a teenage female needs 1,800 to 2,400 calories a day, depending on activity level, while a teen male needs 2,000 to 3,200 calories a day 1.
Basic Meal Plan for Teens
A teen's meal plan should contain a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat. Proteins should include:
- lean beef
- suggest HealthyChildren.org; however
- don't fret too much -- adolescents typically get twice as much protein as they need
Getting your teen to eat a healthy meal can be difficult, given their busy schedules, picky palates and penchant for junk food. A potential morning meal might be two slices of whole-grain toast topped with natural peanut butter, a glass of skim milk and a small piece of fruit. At lunch, skip the school meal and pack an English muffin pizza made with tomato sauce, low-fat cheese and chopped veggies; add a side of low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese to provide extra calcium and protein. Finish the day with a healthy family meal, such as baked salmon with roasted vegetables and a side of brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Healthy beverages such as milk and 100 percent fruit juice can also provide extra calories with a dose of nutrition.
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