Nutrition for adolescents
Adolescence marks the life period of transition from childhood to adulthood, characterized by a number of physiological, psychological and sociological changes. The start into adolescence, and its completion, is difficult to specify because it depends on the completion of physical growth, cultural factors such as job and moving out of the parental home. Adolescence is a period of rapid growth, which is why nutritional needs are significantly elevated. The consequence of increased needs and the increased risk of their dissatisfaction can lead to growth retardation (preventing a maximum body height), delay in sexual maturation and the emergence of various diseases later in life (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis ...). Teenagers feel invulnerable, they generally consider themselves as healthy, and are poorly motivated to protect health. Equally they perceive themselves and other members of society, regardless of the quality of nutrition and physical activity. However, the consequences of inadequate nutrition in youth can come back in adulthood. Alarmingly, now in adolescents and even children we more often see the initial stages of chronic diseases.
Many are thrown around the concept of adequate nutrition, however rare explain what it really represents. In short, there are several basic rules of adequate nutrition which is necessary to pay attentionto :
b. vitamins and minerals
c. phyto and zoochemicals
2. input limit
a. trans-fatty acids
3. s suitable ratio
a. consumed and used energy
b. omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
c. the palatability
Adequate nutrition allows for optimal growth and development (reaching genetic potential), reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases and osteoporosis and provides psychological well-being. Also, it is a factor in the attainment of academic potential.
Until recently, the biggest problem with food was famine or insufficient intake of energy and nutrients. Today it seems that it is obesity that is the consequence of excessive energy intake. It would be logical to assume that because of that the problem of insufficient nutritional intake will disappear, but because of low nutritional value and excessive consumption of energy-rich food such as fast food and sweets, this is not so. Obesity in adults is defined as a BMI greater than 30 kg / m2 (body mass index = body mass index; BMI = body weight [kg] / height [m] 2). Due to strong growth in adolescence, BMI is not a good indicator of obesity. Fat percentage is a better indicator, and in the absence of more precise methods can be assessed by the eye. The cause of obesity is an energy (calorie) intake that exceeds consumption. This occurs due to many reasons, including the psychological and sociological factors. Often we hear or read that sugar or fat causes obesity, but it is distortion of the truth. The truth is that sweet and fatty foods taste attractive and it is easier to go overboard with their amount, but that does not mean that they are nutritionally dense. Also, such food itself is not unhealthy, but is a consequence of its high input of lower intake of nutritionally valuable food, which causes the appearance of some of the food deficits. It is important to emphasize that obesity is not only aesthetically, but a serious health problem. Namely, directly associated with the occurrence of many chronic diseases.
In addition to obesity, there is the problem of representing various food deficits, which we define as insufficient intake of some nutrients. The most commonly deficient nutrients in adolescents are iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, folate, vitamins A and E and dietary fiber. These micronutrients are found in red meat, various vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, and milk and milk products.
Strategies to improve the quality of food
The primary goal should be to educate on the importance of adequate nutrition in health, which should start in primary schools, and to permit the adolescents "smarter" choice of foods in meals consumed outside the home.
The role of parents is also high, and includes supporting joint family meals, preparing diverse and nutritional quality of meals, preparing meals for school snacks instead of providing a child the money for food purchase and so on.
However, not all is in the hands of parents and adolescents. The impact of marketing is powerful, and the food industry mainly promotes foods of low nutritional quality. Food machines with juices and snacks are in school corridors, fast food stores are positioned close to the school ... Such things should be legally regulated. One strategy could be the introduction of organized nutrition in high schools.
Examples of high-quality meals
Below are some of the possible choices of meals. These are just examples, and the best choice for you depends on the composition of other meals and on personal preferences. Eating healthy foods can be in several different ways, a foundation of variety and moderation.
Processed cereal (oatmeal) flakes, milk, coconut flour
Sandwich (whole-wheat bread, cold cuts with reduced fat, cheese, salad)
Lunch and dinner:
Source of protein (meat, fish, eggs, cheese)
Source of carbohydrates (pasta, rice, potatoes ...)
Vegetables as a side dish (all kinds, as more colorful)
Salad (all types, as more colorful)
Adolescence creates many habits that remain for life. Dietary decisions you make now will have consequences in adulthood. Therefore, let them be of high quality!
Bojan Stojnic, ME Nutrition