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Healthy Eating for Teens

How do you convince teens to be concerned with good nutrition? The following article may give you some good ideas.

Nashville, Ark. – You might think that teens are not concerned with good nutrition. While they may not really care about nutrition deficiencies, or even which minerals prevent scurvy, most do want to eat healthy, especially when it comes to optimum performance. Most teens are somewhat concerned about weight or fitness level, performance in sports, making better grades and their appearance.

            Most teens want to know how nutrition can help them right now. If you can convince them that food is fuel and the proper fuel will make a difference in their life today, you will succeed in getting them excited about healthy eating.

            Getting them to understand the link between sports or exercise and food is a winning plan. More than half of the average high school population is involved in an organized school sport or activity; such as band, shooting sports, or quiz bowl. Many more participate in outside activities such as dance, exercise, biking or martial arts. The key is convincing them that they need both exercise and proper nutrition to perform at the highest level possible.

            Following the dietary guidelines and MyPlate can help. Active teens who fuel their bodies with a diet that emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein foods and low fat dairy products will be ready for peak performance and will feel better.

            Carbohydrates in our foods provide us with energy and refuel the body. Complex carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables will fill you up, while simple carbohydrates – those found in sugary drinks, candy, chips, etc. – provide little long term energy. If your teen, or yourself, is experiencing fatigue or seem to be tired all the time, it could be an indication that body carbohydrate stores are low.

            The importance of keeping your teen hydrated is essential before, during and after physical activity cannot be emphasized enough. Despite what sports drink manufacturers would have you believe, water is most important. Frequent water breaks are a necessity. For each pound of water lost through sweat, 16 ounces or 2 cups of fluid should replace it.

            It is so important for anyone, especially youth to start the day with a balanced breakfast. It not only stops the fasting cycle your body has begun, it fuels the mind so that your student can think clearly throughout the morning. Brain cells need a constant supply of energy to work at their best. Kids, teens and even adults, who eat breakfast, are better able to think, concentrate, learn, and even score higher on standardized tests. A balanced breakfast might include something as simple as whole wheat toast with peanut butter, fruit and a glass of milk. A bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit, a bowl of whole grain cereal, or a whole wheat bagel with a glass of milk makes a great, fast breakfast.

            Healthy eating is something we all should strive for, regardless of age, activity level, or current involvement in sports, and doesn’t just apply to teens. Eat right and you will feel better and have more energy to complete tasks throughout the day.

            For more information on MyPlate or dietary guidelines, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. You might also want to check out these websites, www.uaex.edu or www.choosemyplate.gov for information on eating healthy.

Recipe of the Week

            This recipe is great for busy families since it uses the crock pot to do all the cooking. It also uses lots of fall vegetables. You may substitute chicken or vegetable broth or water instead of white wine. You can serve this dish as a stew or strain the broth and serve it as gravy.

Crock Pot Chicken and Vegetables

1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

2 onions, sliced

2 celery ribs, cut in 1-inch pieces

6 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ pounds)

1 cup water

½ cup white wine (or ½ cup additional water or broth)

½ teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoons dried parsley

Dash of red pepper flakes

Black pepper, to taste

Salt, to taste

            Combine the vegetables in the crock pot. Place chicken on top of vegetables. Mix together remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and pour over chicken. Cook on high 4-5 hours.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories, 3.5g fat, 28 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 280 mg sodium

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517
jince@uaex.edu

 

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